In 5 freedoms you'd lose in health care reform, Fortune editor Shawn Tully contributes his opinion to the ongoing special report on Healthcare at CNN. The subtitle says it all:
If you read the fine print in the Congressional plans, you'll find that a lot of cherished aspects of the current system would disappear.
Here's a no-brainer:
Page by page, the bills reveal a web of restrictions, fines, and
mandates that would radically change your health-care coverage.
I am so glad that someone with the visibility of Fortune is smelling the coffee before it is too late.
Here's his five things you will lose if the current legislation passes:
- Freedom to choose what's in your plan
Today, many states require these "standard benefits packages" — and
they're a major cause for the rise in health-care costs. Every group,
from chiropractors to alcohol-abuse counselors, do lobbying to get
included. Connecticut, for example, requires reimbursement for hair
transplants, hearing aids, and in vitro fertilization.
- Freedom to be rewarded for healthy living, or pay your real costs
But the bills would bar rewarding people who pursue a healthy lifestyle
of exercise or a cholesterol-conscious diet. That's hardly a formula
for lower costs.
- Freedom to choose high-deductible coverage
The bills seriously endanger the trend toward consumer-driven care in
general. By requiring minimum packages, they would prevent patients
from choosing stripped-down plans that cover only major medical
- Freedom to keep your existing plan
The employees who got their coverage before the law goes into effect
can keep their plans, but once again, there's a catch. If the plan
changes in any way — by altering co-pays, deductibles, or even
switching coverage for this or that drug — the employee must drop out
and shop through the exchange. Since these plans generally change their
policies every year, it's likely that millions of employees will lose
their plans in 12 months.
- Freedom to choose your doctors
Under the proposals, the gatekeepers would theoretically guide patients
to tests and treatments that have proved most cost-effective. The
danger is that doctors will be financially rewarded for denying care,
as were HMO physicians more than a decade ago. It was consumer outrage
over despotic gatekeepers that made the HMOs so unpopular, and killed
what was billed as the solution to America's health-care cost explosion.