When the new health care reform legislation was presented to the American people, one of the pushing points was that one could keep dependent children on one’s policy until they turn 26. But guess what? Not really. If your son or daughter’s employer offers health care of any kind, s/he MUST take it from the employer. It doesn’t matter if that coverage is horribly inadequate. It doesn’t matter if it costs an arm and a leg and still doesn’t actually cover anything. Yep, s/he still has to take it from the employer, and you cannot cover your child on your policy any more. That’s right, it is forbidden. So your young adult dependent MUST take the inferior coverage at the higher price. Think it’s not happening? All over the nation, companies are being sold similarly overrated policies as employers scramble to lower costs. Some do it because of economic conditions, some because they’re about to shoulder costs they didn’t have before the law, and some because reducing costs is what corporations do. Regardless, if an employer offers it, you’re stuck with it, no matter how inadequate it may be.

Then there’s the myth that those with preexisting conditions will now have coverage. The truth is that they’ll still only have coverage IF they can afford it. In some cases, this may actually help. But in all too many cases, the preexisting condition wasn’t all that major in the first place, or there were already state programs in place to help them. What’s going to happen to those preexisting programs for preexisting conditions? Here’s a case study: In Colorado, the state’s program would cost a particular patient $300 a month. The Federal program provides better coverage, but the cost is $325 per month. If that patient has a condition with serious and costly effects, then the policy might be a good deal. But if the preexisting condition was something as inexpensive as Type 2 diabetes, for example, the Federal program costs about $300 more per month than the patient paying for his or her own medications. Most can do the math. It’s $4,000 per year for that coverage. Those who can’t afford to spend that much on health insurance will be paying $1800 a year in fines instead. They will be paying half the price of health care insurance that they cannot afford, so that someone else can be entitled to health care coverage (which that person may not be able to afford either.) Well-intended though it may be, in the real world, this is a disaster. Those lower income persons who already couldn’t afford coverage will soon be forced to pay $150 a month for NO coverage, as the lesser, more affordable evil. But surely there’ll be someone to appeal to, right? Ever tried appealing to the compassion of an IRS auditor?

Some have argued for Universal Healthcare, such as is provided in Europe and Canada, and a general tax increase to pay for that. They argue that the reduction in health care costs from not having all of the billing nightmares would be substantial. Individuals would still be free to have personal coverage if they’d like to, and the physician would be free to practice outside of that universal coverage.

How would this affect physicians? Some imagine that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to file a frivolous malpractice lawsuit against a government employee, and the doctors could concentrate on just being doctors while caring for patients who have Universal Coverage. Others counter that a government administered universal healthcare system would lower the quality of and access to care. If physician compensation were adequate, would this create simpler solution than the convoluted mess that the nation has now? Or would it simply be “out of the pot and into the fire?”

What do you think?