Remember the patients
We've come a long way. I'm thrilled to be at a point in time where my assignment is to offer my thoughts on amending a bill that could reshape the health care landscape. But looking at the amendments still essential to this reshaping, I'm grateful there is still time and willingness to debate the current bill and hopefully make important, life-saving changes.
For example, in the current bill, lifetime and annual limits on dollars spent by an insurer on behalf of a patient are prohibited. The rationale, obviously, is to prevent treatment decisions being made by an insurer looking at the bottom line rather than by a patient and their medical team. Where the barn door stands wide open, however, is that there is no prohibition against an insurer setting limits on the number of times a patient could receive treatments like radiation, chemotherapy or even have surgery. The prohibition against lifetime and annual limits on dollars should be expanded to include banning limits on treatments and services.
Another issue identified by patient advocates is that while insurers will be banned from discriminating against customers with pre-existing conditions, they will be allowed to impose waiting periods of up to 90 days before offering coverage in what's called the large group market. Without a doubt, that stipulation will translate into millions of Americans suffering while they tick off days on their calendars, waiting to be able to see a doctor. Ninety day waiting periods should be eliminated in all insurance markets.
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