The reverberations of the passage of the health care reform act are still radiating across the country. Republicans and some Democrats are predicting the end of the world as we know it, other Democrats are convinced we've seen the Second Coming, and nobody quite knows what is contained in the more than 2000 pages of legalistic fine print.
I've tried to read the new law, but I only have a bachelor's degree in Linguistics and never studied Old Church Slavonic, the official language of political obfuscation, so I don't understand much of it. How can we know what we have? How can we understand if we're better off, worse off, or in the same rut as before? I think these five questions may provide a useful yardstick with which we can start judging how ugly this baby is:
1. Can an average American family afford health care?
2. Do doctors earn a wage commensurate with the cost of their education and the trust we place in them for our lives?
3. Has the cost of health care for most Americans gone down?
4. Will the portion of the cost of health care represented by administrative overhead (insurance company costs and profit, cost to doctors of maintaining a billing staff, etc) go down?
5. Does the new law make it easier to obtain preventive health care, or does it concentrate on fixing problems?
I already have a few questions about the new law, beyond those I posed a few days ago:
Since Republicans believe that the answer to every problem is lower taxes, why does the new law raise the amount of health care expense required to be claimed as an itemized tax deduction?
Does the federal government actually have the Constitutional authority to mandate that every American must have health insurance?
Why does the new law limit the amounts of pre-tax money Real People can put into a Medical Flexible Spending Account to help pay for their health care? And, by the way, why does any money in a Medical FSA disappear at the end of the year instead of rolling over to help pay for future care? And why can't a Medical FSA be added to during the year if the balance is depleted?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Have a good day. Stay healthy. More thoughts tomorrow.