Join the Health Care Reform Debate.

by Meredith O’Brien


Before the end of this calendar year, it’s highly likely members of the U.S. Congress will cast votes on a subject that affects each and every one of us: The future of our health insurance coverage. We’re talking about whether you can take your kids to a well child visit and how much it’ll cost you, if/when you can have things like annual mammograms and pap smears covered by insurance, how and by whom any subsequent childbirths are paid for, and if you or your spouse have changed jobs and have to apply to a new health insurance company, whether you’d be accepted if you or a family member has a “pre-existing condition.” (In some states, having had a C-section and being of child-bearing age is considered a pre-existing condition and, in some cases, may, under the current system, prevent a woman from obtaining insurance coverage.)


The issue of medical care for you and your family is a deeply personal one, and, ironically, the way health insurance reform is being played out on Capitol Hill, seems distinctly impersonal, almost as if it’s happening in some alternate universe far, far away. Have you tried following the debate about the several competing health insurance reform bills? Do you know which senators favor a government-run insurance option and which ones say non-profit insurance exchanges (otherwise known as co-ops) are the way to go? Do you know which of the three major, competing bills will be most beneficial to small businesses owners and their employees, and which ones would level substantial financial penalties on taxpayers for NOT getting a health insurance plan?


What? You don’t know these things right off the cuff? Not to worry. You’re not alone. A recent New York Times/CBS poll found that nearly 60 percent of Americans find this entire debate confusing and downright labyrinthian. Even former NBC News anchor, Tom Brokaw said he’s having trouble trying to figure out exactly what lawmakers are going to vote on. “The American people are feeling left out of all this,” Brokaw said on MSNBC. “. . . It is so complex. . . I’m very dialed in, and I’m having a hard time every day keeping up to speed on all this . . . It shifts and changes every day.”


However, I’ll bet you’ve heard about these things: