Daily Pulse: It Could Happen to You

Lindsay E. Beyerstein

Opponents of health reform are stating that millions of Americans will lose their employer-based coverage under a public option. What they don't tell you is that employers can stop offering coverage at any time with no fallback.

This article is reprinted in partnership with The Media Consortium, of which Rewire is a member.

Opponents of health care reform are trying to pit the insured against everyone else. Conservative Republicans like Rep. Mike Pence
warn that if we get a public option, millions of Americans will lose
their private coverage because so many employers will stop offering
private insurance. What Pence doesn’t say is that right now, employers
can stop providing insurance at any time and their workers will have
nothing to fall back on. As costs rise, fewer and fewer employers are
providing any health insurance at all.

Most insured people have no idea how fragile their coverage is under the status quo.

The Uptake carries President Obama’s address on the uninsured,
in which he hammered home the message that anyone under 65 can lose
their coverage at any time. Luckily for those over 65, they have a
popular public option, Medicare.

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There are lots of ways to become uninsured, including job loss,
employers cutting off benefits, or insurers kicking customers off the
rolls. As Obama said:

Over the last twelve months, nearly six million more
Americans lost their health coverage – that’s 17,000 men and women
every single day. We’re not just talking about Americans in poverty,
either – we’re talking about middle-class Americans. In other words, it
can happen to anyone. And based on a brand-new report from the Treasury
Department, we can expect that about half of all Americans under 65
will lose their health coverage at some point over the next ten years.

It’s common knowledge that insurance companies drop customers with
preexisting conditions and cut paying customers off when they get sick.
It might surprise you to learn that domestic violence counts as a
preexisting condition in many states.

Amie Newman of Rewire reports that the insurance industry
figured out what feminists have been saying for decades: Once a man
becomes a batterer, chances are he’ll continue to abuse his wife with
increasing brutality. If you’re a human being, that’s an outrage and a
tragedy. If you’re a conscience-free health insurance provider, it’s a
big red flag to drop victims because their wounds will cost you money.
This is the logic of for-profit health insurance in a microcosm:
Identify the most vulnerable and purge them because they hurt your
bottom line.

Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee is set to unveil its long-awaited bill today. The committee will vote on the bill next week. We’ll examine the bill in tomorrow’s Pulse.

After a seemingly endless quest for a bipartisan bill, Finance
Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont) is signaling that he’s prepared to move
ahead without GOP support. Good thing, too. Sen. Chuck Grassley
(R-Iowa) swears he’s serious about bipartisanship,
according to the Iowa Independent, but he spent the summer telling tall
tales of death panels and fundraising as an opponent of “Obamacare.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one potential Republican swing vote, now
says she rejects the very idea of public/private competition, according to Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly.

Finally, you can use the Washington Independent’s new Public Option Scoreboard to keep track of every senator’s position, based on their public statements.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care and is free to reprint. Visit Healthcare.newsladder.net
for a complete list of articles on health care affordability, health
care laws, and health care controversy. For the best progressive
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