Have you ever met someone who's 'happy with their health-care coverage'?

It’s beginning to look like centrist “Blue Dog” Democrats might be forced to fall in line with the public option on healthcare reform. Progressive senators, such as Bernie Sanders, informed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that a critical 10 to 15 votes would be withheld from a bill that not only features no public option but calls for taxing health benefits. Reid, in turn, was forced to pass along the news to Blue Dog Max Baucus. In the House, progressive Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Lynn Woolsey seconded that.

At Open Left, Chris Bowers writes: “This is like some beautiful dream come true.” Furthermore, he explains, Reid and Majority Whip Dick Durbin are “now pressing all Senate Democrats to stick together on ‘procedural votes’ [to rule out] Republican filibusters. … Doing so would mean Democrats only need 50 votes to pass legislation.”

According to a new poll by the Employee Benefit Research Institute:

Between 68 percent and 88 percent of Americans either strongly or somewhat support health reform ideas such as national health plans, a public plan option, guaranteed issue, expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, and employer and individual mandates. …

While 14 percent of Americans think the health care system needs a major overhaul, 51 percent agree with the statement “there are some good things about our health care system, but major changes are needed.”

Conservatives are using this poll to show Americans are generally satisfied with their health-care. But it seems evident from the results that while Americans may not support health-care reform wholeheartedly, few oppose it in its entirety.

Meanwhile, at the Hill, Jeffrey Young labeled the following refrain Obama’s “mantra”: “If you are happy with your plan and you are happy with your doctor, then we don’t want you to have to change.”

Who exactly, aside from the super-rich, is happy with his or her health care? The EBRI poll also reports: “Only a small minority rate it excellent (6 percent) or very good (10 percent).” Where does this mythical beast reside?

Sure, you’ll find those who claim to cite concerns about big government and fear that taxes will be raised. Others parrot the line about how Canadians are forced to wait six months to see a specialist. But that doesn’t mean they’re happy — more likely, they just find their health-care plans fair.

But I think I figured it out. Americans who are happy with their health-care plans are those vestigial few who pay low premiums. Yes, citizens who pay $25 to $100 per month on plans where their employers spring for the rest still exist. To them, exorbitant co-pays (like $50 in the emergency room on mine) are a small price to pay, as are deductibles. (Why Americans accept these two practices when they give the appearance of double-dipping — it feels like we’re paying the insurance company twice — is an ongoing puzzle.)

Like those who still receive pensions, those paying low premiums are dinosaurs. For them to draw the conclusion that their good fortune applies to the rest of the country requires an obliviousness breathtaking in its scope.

What then will a public option knock off the exorbitant health-care premiums we pay? A couple of hundred dollars per month? Not much, but at least then the “second rent” (or mortgage, as the case may be) that we’re currently paying might be reduced to the equivalent of a second car payment.

7 replies »

  1. Whenever people start prattling about the disaster that is the Canadian system, stop them in mid-sentence. They’re repeating urban legend as though it were fact. They’ve HEARD about long lines and so on, but these are myths. Talk to a few actual Canadians and review actual health care DATA.

    The US is first in the industrial world in outlay and last in results. Intolerable.

    Also, when they start blathering about the inefficiencies of gummit-run programs, smack them. We actually HAVE a gummit-run program that outperforms our private system on every meaningful metric. It’s called Medicare, and it provides better care at significantly lower cost.

  2. I think maybe Congress people and their families should have the very nice health insurance that we provide for them taken away…maybe then they’d be able to see the situation more clearly.

    I don’t think that the public option should be entirely free, or even as comprehensive as the best private plans. Personally, i don’t think that $50 is too much to pay for an emergency room visit. I do think that there should be co-pays and deductibles for services. Expanded coverage and even insurance for deductibles seems a logical place for the private sector to be involved (and countries with national health care regularly have private systems operating alongside the public system). In such a situation, the purchased insurance (either by the individual or offered by an employer) would probably be very reasonable.

  3. Like Brian, I’m happy with my health care plan and I have no employer to subsidize it.



    It’s official. America and the World are now in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. A World EPIDEMIC with potential catastrophic consequences for ALL of the American people. The first PANDEMIC in 41 years. And WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES will have to face this PANDEMIC with the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed World.


    We spend over twice as much of our GDP on healthcare as any other country in the World. And Individual American spend about ten times as much out of pocket on healthcare as any other people in the World. All because of GREED! And the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare system in America.

    And while all this is going on, some members of congress seem mostly concern about how to protect the corporate PROFITS! of our GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT NATIONAL DISGRACE. A PRIVATE FOR PROFIT DISGRACE that is in fact, totally valueless to the public health. And a detriment to national security, public safety, and the public health.

    Progressive democrats the Tri-Caucus and others should stand firm in their demand for a robust public option for all Americans, with all of the minimum requirements progressive democrats demanded. If congress can not pass a robust public option with at least 51 votes and all robust minimum requirements, congress should immediately move to scrap healthcare reform and request that President Obama declare a state of NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY! Seizing and replacing all PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance plans with the immediate implementation of National Healthcare for all Americans under the provisions of HR676 (A Single-payer National Healthcare Plan For All).

    Coverage can begin immediately through our current medicare system. With immediate expansion through recruitment of displaced workers from the canceled private sector insurance industry. Funding can also begin immediately by substitution of payroll deductions for private insurance plans with payroll deductions for the national healthcare plan. This is what the vast majority of the American people want. And this is what all objective experts unanimously agree would be the best, and most cost effective for the American people and our economy.

    In Mexico on average people who received medical care for A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) with in 3 days survived. People who did not receive medical care until 7 days or more died. This has been the same results in the US. But 50 million Americans don’t even have any healthcare coverage. And at least 200 million of you with insurance could not get in to see your private insurance plans doctors in 2 or 3 days, even if your life depended on it. WHICH IT DOES!

    If President Obama has to declare a NATIONAL STATE OF EMERGENCY to rescue the American people from our healthcare crisis, he will need all the sustained support you can give him. STICK WITH HIM! He’s doing a brilliant job.



    Join the fight.

    Contact congress and your representatives NOW! AND SPREAD THE WORD!

    God Bless You

    Jacksmith – WORKING CLASS

  5. What’s with this big Imageshack ad on the left side? What’s that all about? It’s kind of a pain. I don’t know enough about the particulars of national health care to leave an intelligent response, except to say that it looks like it might really happen! I hope it does, for all our sakes.