Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Nurses Have Known All Along: Everyone Needs Health Care Insurance

I don’t know about you, but I’m hanging on almost every word, opinion and explanation of the case that is before the Supreme Court this week. Nine justices are hearing the arguments for and against mandated health care coverage; whether the federal government is “coercing” states into expanding Medicaid; and whether the rest of the Affordable Care Act is valid if the individual mandate is struck down.

It’s been two years since this monumental health care reform package was signed into law, and I think I’m almost starting to understand the arguments and explanations. Not that I’m going to attempt to explain them here, but I do have a few thoughts and opinions on the issues and how the legislation relates to nurses.

As a patient advocate, I feel compelled to argue that health care is a right, not a privilege. Except for those who are too poor to pay, we all need to contribute to the cost of health care because a good insurance system isn’t going to work unless contributions are made by both the sick and the well. Besides, unless you get hit by a truck and are declared dead at the scene and have never had any health problems prior to this accident, you will need medical care sooner or later. You might pay for someone else’s surgery today, but someone else is going to pay for yours next year.

A quick digression: One question not before the Supreme Court is whether anyone should be making a profit from selling health insurance. Currently, a goodly portion of insurance premium dollars never get to patients. This money pays salaries, bonuses and dividends to company owners, executives and shareholders whose main goal is to maximize profits. That means keeping costs as low as possible, which translates into denying as much care as possible.

Back to the subject at hand: Nurses are, most importantly, concerned with preventing disease and preserving and promoting health. They can accomplish this only if all citizens are covered by some form of basic health care insurance. Though not perfect, the Affordable Care Act contains many provisions for furthering preventive care and the education of nurses who, as time passes, will carry out this work more and more.

It’s been more than 20 years since the American Nurses Association (ANA) put forth its “Nursing's Agenda for Health Care Reform,” which calls for a “restructured health care system” that focuses on wellness, accessibility and convenience, as wells as case management for the chronically ill and greater patient responsibility. The position paper supports a “nationally standardized package of essential services” that includes coverage of pregnant women and children–a “cost effective investment in the future health and prosperity of the nation.”

You can read the entire position paper at Nursing's Agenda for Health Care Reform.

It seems to me that the ANA’s position paper mirrors much of what is in the Affordable Care Act. Can it be that, all along, nurses knew best?

Tell us what you think.

P.S.: NurseZone is carrying daily updates from the Supreme Court hearings this week; stay tuned to what’s happening on this page.


Anonymous said...

You make a number of very good points, and especially, that the whole idea of "for profit" insurance companies never comes up. And the healthcare bill is also lacking any real measures to reign in insurance costs.

That is one of the reasons I was very lukewarm about the bill. It requires everyone to buy insurance, and while the bill does forbid insurers from dropping you if you get sick, or from refusing people with pre-existing conditions, it doesn't put any restrictions on cost, or what they have to cover, or how much coverage, etc. Its basically a free for all for the insurance companies.

Barbara Fox said...

Barbara Fox said.....

The implications of the Supreme Court's decision regarding Health Care Reform are varied.

As the author so eloquently expressed, I too believe health care is a right and not a privilege for a chosen few. With rising costs, it is more obvious that health care reform is a necessity. More than one administration from both sides of the aisle have recognized this need and finally a bill has been passed. President Obama has been demonized for not focusing on job growth but rather health reform. I see the reform package as courageous, far-sighted and morally doing "the next right thing"

Besides, the moral implications of caring for all our citizens, the commerce act justifies Federal regulation.

As Hubert Humphrey said..."A country is best judged on how they treat their children, the poor and the elderly." With close to 25% of our children living in poverty preventive health care would at least give these children a nod in the right direction.

When opponents to health care reform use scare tactics such as death panels, and forced ingestion of broccoli, a thinking person can only assume desperation is their mind set and disingenuous statements their only agenda.

Lisa White said...

Yes, we all agree everyone should receive healthcare. Politicians are so abusive in their use of language and propaganda to make people feel bad if they are not for this healthcare reform. The fact is, it is designed to systematically default everyone into it. For every small business with more than 50 employees will be mandated to offer an insurance policy, and if just one of their emploees applies for the government policy, guess what? They fine the business $750.00 for each employee, even if just one employee does this. (this is how it was written when I last researched it in 2011)Not only that, but the single payer system is designed to reimburse hospitals at the 30% rate that medicaid uses (I believe this is accurate it is either medicaid or medicarre, either way it is a 30% reimbursement) No one likes the fact that econmoics matters here, but if ignored the quality of our healthcare will be a disaster. Private insurances reimburse around an 80% rate, when they are weeded out, how will hospitals afford the skilled and educated staff to serve the patients???? Businesses are being strogly discouraged from both hiring more people due to the mandates of providing insurance policies, with an additional risk of being fined for one person disliking the option, and from providing private insurance at all. This is how private insurances are being systematically removed. In addition to this I believe that by 2017 the annual fine for not carrying insurance is around $350.00. Wow, what a break for the population to basically not have to pay for healthcare at all. I guess this means either nurses will carry a 10 pt load, or our taxes will be soooo burdensome we won't know what to do! There are multiple other ways to decrrease healthcare, but it is too much power for the government to resist having. Will our medical records now be the property of the government? Hmmm, I have yet to meet a poloitician I could trust. I wonder if this single payer system that is so great is what they will be carrying...of course not. The disparity will be so grand between the people that can afford what is needed, but not emergent and those that are "elitest", it will be more tragic than ever. This post is not to be a fear tactic, but what I believe to be the very truth from my research. I, like all nurses want the best care for patients, and yes this bill does scare me tremendously.