Like most people, you may have a lot of questions about health care reform. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get clear-cut answers until the final legislation is signed by the President and put into action.
In the current proposals, the basic system we have stays the same, with insurance coverage provided by private insurance companies. There’s no doubt that by requiring health insurance and setting a minimum level of benefits, the government will play a larger role in American health care. But the government already administers Medicare, and many seniors are happy with that system.
How will health reform affect you and your family? Here are 10 important questions to ask about health care reform -- along with some commentary on what we know now.
1. Will health care reform affect my ability to choose a doctor?
According to experts, health care reform legislation won’t dictate who your doctor will be. If you like your current doctor, you’ll be able to keep that doctor. Will you be able to see a different doctor if you want? Yes, although your insurance company might impose some restrictions - just as it does now.
However, if more uninsured people become covered by health insurance, it’s possible that health care reform could mean that your doctor takes on more patients, making it harder to get an appointment. Most experts think that this would be a temporary problem.
2. Will I be able to get the latest medical technology and advances after health reform?
If legislation passes, the Department of Health and Human Services will likely set a minimum level of benefits. Most likely, these benefits would be similar to those offered in affordable health care plans and HMOs available today.
Most insurers would probably have to offer the minimum benefits. But consumers and employers could buy more expensive policies with broader benefits, including easier access to cutting-edge medicine, just as they can today.
3. If I like my current health insurance coverage, will I be able to keep it?
Health care reform legislation won’t dictate whether you keep your current insurance plan or not. That’s up to you and - if you get insurance through work - your employer. Of course, it’s possible that your employer may decide to change the insurance plan it offers in the wake of health care reform. That’s harder to predict.
4. If I have a health problem, will health care reform make it easier for me to get coverage?
One of the core ideas behind health care reform is to get insurance for almost everybody -- including those who haven’t been able to get affordable insurance because of a pre-existing medical condition.
Health reform legislation will likely prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage or raising the cost of premiums based on a person’s medical history. Depending on the final legislation, people with conditions like diabetes or heart disease might be guaranteed insurance at the same rates as other people the same age without those health problems.
This is a key issue to watch as legislation unfolds, especially if you or a loved one is living with a health problem.