What Does Healthcare Reform Mean to Musicians: Part III – The Reform Issues

Before proceeding, I encourage new readers to the series to catch-up by reviewing parts one & two.

Is it fair to compare the healthcare industry to the recording industry?  Both are going through significant changes as a result of current economic and technological developments.   Although the symptoms of the problem within each industry are quite different, there is acknowledgment that each industry needs to evolve and change.  The argument happening right now in both industries is what change should look like.

Since this series is supposed to be about healthcare, allow me to focus primarily on what are the significant issues currently being debated.

How Involved Should Musicians Be?

One of the key questions I keep hearing raised is who should be involved and have their voice heard.  I am fan of Bill Maher, and one of the key questions he keeps asking is where are the people who would benefit from this change.  At rallies, tea parties, or whatever, the same conservative voices are being heard because of the lack of presence from more liberal voices.   I stumbled on to a post by the Daily Kos which said:

Most musicians have lived without health care. All musicians have friends and family who have been seriously ill without access to health care. We need our musicians to take to the stages now to rally us and remind us. We need a place where the voices of electeds and activists can be heard above the loud din of the Deathers and Ragers. We need some “Foreclosure Blues,” and “My Baby Can’t Get Her Scrip.” Millions of stories are waiting to be told. Bruce, Beyoncé, U2, will.i.am and Herbie Hancock – Are you there?

Should musicians participate more aggressively in the healthcare debate?

Musicians are one major group that has the most to gain or lose depending on the outcome.  If aspiring musicians were to ask the elite to participate on behalf of the musician’s industry, what should it look like?  A rally? An online streamed concert?  Key representatives from the music industry appearing before Congress?

I don’t have the answer, but I am throwing the question out for further contemplation.

The Major Issues: Public Option, Cost Control & Insurance Regulation

I think most people agree that the public option, controlling healthcare costs, and reforming how the insurance companies treat people are the major issues that are up for debate at the moment.  All of these subjects overlap with one another.  This is my interpretation of the facts.  It is almost  impossible to accurately decipher what should be done about each of these issues because of the ridiculous rhetoric going back and forth between liberals and conservatives.  I won’t waste time pointing fingers other than to state both sides are at fault. So, I have done my best to find middle ground information.

I didn’t fully understand why a public option was necessary until I saw the following video:

Based on the video, without better health insurance regulations, which helps to keep costs down and insurance companies in check, a public option is necessary.  It certainly makes sense.  The fundamentals of capitalism demands ongoing growth.  As a result, insurance companies are under shareholders guise to constantly find ways to increase profits.   With  these principles, the expectation is more, more, more cash, as opposed to really helping people in need.

At the moment, there is nothing to balance the rising costs of health insurance.   How do you cut costs without regulation?  The only alternative is offering something that is a private, non-profit health insurance system.  The real question is: should the private/public option be government run?  If not the government, then what entity should operate and manage a public health insurance system?  At the moment, the government is the only option currently available.

Since health insurance companies have no one to answer to, they are all pretty much entitled to do anything they want regardless of whether people live or die.   Why, because of the almighty dollar.  Once again, insurance companies are doing anything they can to maintain profits because of stockholder expectations.  I was shocked to hear about 4 month old, Alex Lange, being dropped from health coverage because he was considered over weight.  Something has to change…

This brings me to a presentation I found on Slideshare that summarizes what is currently taking place on Capitol Hill:

After all of this, there is still one major issue: health insurance mandates.  Should every US Citizen be forced to pay for health insurance?  According to NPR, this is what a mandate could mean:

If a bill is passed, it will most likely require all who can afford insurance to buy it — or pay a tax penalty. Many people — especially younger, healthier adults — won’t buy insurance unless they’re required to; they think they don’t need it. But sometimes they suffer serious illness or trauma and end up not being able to pay their bills, which costs everyone else money. If they paid monthly premiums, these lower-cost subscribers would also help lower the premiums for everyone else.

What does all of this equal? A very complicated problem with no easy solution.   After all this, I do think there are some very significant issues that aren’t being discussed such as wellness, prevention, prescription drugs and processed foods.  I will be tackling these issues in the next post.  I thought about adding it to this one, but it is already long.

I will leave you with a segment from NPR’s Frontline I started watching about health insurance in other countries.  It was recorded a while ago, but I found this really interesting.  If you have the time, it is worth watching the full show.

More coming soon…

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