Doctor is in, the jury is still out

Robert Heltzel

There’s a volatile debate raging in Congress right now, and it’s a matter concerned very much with life and death. What I am talking about, of course, is the sprawling political matter known as health care reform.

What I intend to do through this letter is engage you where, as college students, you exist on this issue. Try to stay with me — then we can go to Rosie’s. ??

This fight is taking a damn long time to finish itself up. But for me, what rises above the frantic rhetoric of this debate are two main points: First is that our coverage system will, at last, be forced to focus foremost on getting people to their doctors. And, secondly, that insurance companies will now face stricter government regulation.

So, quickly, let’s examine why this legislation is beneficial for you. ??Easily the grandest change this health care reform would bring is the ban on denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. Now, what exactly did I just say? Basically insurance companies could no longer choose to reject you for already having a health condition before applying for insurance with them.

This is a big deal, to say the least. Under the new rules it would be illegal for a company like UnitedHealthcare to reject you for having any afflictions such as or in addition to the following: diabetes, ADHD, alcoholism, high blood pressure, asthma, sickle cell, Crohn’s disease or any “condition” that could be labeled as risky by an insurance company.

In a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 62 percent of Americans knew about this exceptional new decree, which is tragic because this is by far one of the most radical actions the bill takes. Knowledge is power, indeed. ??

And the perks don’t stop at that. There are a generous amount of subsidies designed to be provided to low-income individuals and families, financial assistance for the uninsured to purchase insurance, an amendment that forces insurers to spend 90 percent of each dollar they make off you on actual coverage-related expenditures and, lastly, it would allow you to remain under your parents’ insurance plan until you are 25 years old (possibly longer).

I know I pitched a ton at you just now, but if you’re unfamiliar with any concepts I’m elaborating on, it’s definitely in your interest to familiarize yourself with what’s being done to our coverage system. The longer this bill remains in legislative limbo, the more diluted it will become.

At the end of the day, what anyone knows is that it is not becoming any less expensive to attend college. So to wrap it up with regard to health care reform, I offer this: There is no reason for you to oppose this bill unless you are an extremely rich insurance company CEO.

This kind of legislation has been a long time coming. And while its future is still uncertain, there’s no doubt in my mind that it needs to be signed into law. There is no denying that.

Robert Heltzel is a 2008 graduate and currently interning with the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative.