Print Friendly and PDFPrinter Friendly Version

Friday, May 21, 2010

Health reform and consumer choice

Kate Blocher

Staff Writer

The White House Blog recently posted a response to an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal, which claims the new health reform law will limit consumers’ choices and prevent them from keeping their current health care plans. As the author of the blog, Stephanie Cutter, points out, “this ignores the realities of health reform.” We couldn’t agree more.

In our current system, the majority of Americans receive their health coverage through their workplace. The new health reform law won’t change this. The only effect the new law will have on employer plans is to finally put in place some much-needed consumer protections and enhancements, “such as coverage for young adults up to age 26 and the elimination of annual limits on covered health costs.”

Where major changes will be seen, however, is in the creation of a new, regulated marketplace where people who do not receive job-based care can go to buy insurance and be assured that they are purchasing quality, affordable coverage. The op-ed claims that the new health reform law will have the largest impact on the individual market, which is true, but as Cutter explains:

“The fact of the matter is that the individual market does not work well now—it features high prices and not enough choice, and too many Americans are left with poor or no health insurance because of this.”

So what does this mean for the average American? If you currently have job-based health care, don’t expect any drastic changes. If you are one of the millions of Americans whose employer does not offer insurance, or you are self-employed, unemployed, or simply cannot afford insurance in the current market, the new health reform law means that you will finally have options for affordable, quality health care.

Americans will no longer have to worry that losing their job, or starting a small business will leave them uninsured. The exchanges will provide consumers with a transparent, competitive marketplace where they can purchase insurance, and know exactly what they are buying. It will also provide subsidies to make insurance more affordable for those struggling to pay premiums.

The bottom line is this: The new health reform law will not limit consumer choices and force them to change their existing health plans. Instead, it will create security and peace of mind for millions of Americans who have been at the mercy of our broken health care system for far too long. That is change worth making.