The Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog

Health Care Reform From One Person's Perspective

Health Care Reform News versus Entertainment

Posted by Alan on September 3, 2009

There’s news and then there’s The Daily Show, hosted by Jon Stewart. Mr. Stewart is clear his is not a news show. He is an entertainer. His show is, after all, on Comedy Central. Yet his insights on the health care reform are far deeper than anything you’ll find on CNN, Fox or MSNBC. While clearly liberal, Mr. Stewart has the smarts to be an equal opportunity lambaste-er.

Now, let me say, I recognize the health care reform debate is a serious issue. One has only to read a comment left by Tracey to appreciate that. She played by all the rules (purchased coverage, paid her premiums), but her son’s coverage will soon reach it’s lifetime maximum. The substance of health care reform is literally about life and death.

The politics of health care reform sometimes loses sight of that reality. Beneath the bombast and the shrill rhetoric human lives hang in the balance. Sometimes it takes humor to put things in perspective and to get us focused on what really matters – that the status quo cannot be sustained. Change is needed and our leaders and the media need to be focused on helping us understand the tough choices we need to make. They need to be clear and articulate. They need to avoid fear mongering and hysteria. When leaders and the media fail, they need to be held to account.

Enter Mr. Stewart and his comrades in humorous arms. Take, for example, this clip in which John Stewart gives both President Barack Obama and Fox News deserved reality checks (the president at about 3 minutes and 30 seconds into the clip; Fox at about 4 minutes and 40 seconds).  Warning: The clip is PG-13 rated – at least.

In another episode, Mr. Stewart captures the absurd heights the national dialogue on health care reform reached this August, when he observes “So the debate seems to have boiled down to one side screaming so loud and so angrily that they’ve drowned out the other sides’ incoherence.”

Congress is about to convene once more and the final push for health care reform is about to begin. Next week, as you leave what I hope is a terrific Labor Day weekend behind you, keep this in mind: for entertainment masquerading as news, tune into MSNBC or Fox (depending on your predisposition). For news delivered as entertainment, keep an eye on The Daily Show. Consider it the silver lining of the political craziness we call the legislative process. And let’s hope at the end of the day the result of all this is a system that works for Tracey and the rest of us.


3 Responses to “Health Care Reform News versus Entertainment”

  1. Paul said

    Agree with response to Tracey. While tragic, the solution is to have a limitless policy? Is there some concensus on what we collectively will not do, so that we can spend the money on limitless coverage to avoid something like this? The money’s got to come from somewhere… what are we willing to trade off?

  2. David said

    I’m sick this Health Care Reform Debate. I think I have the HCRD flu…

  3. GeorgeT said

    Tracey ticked me off with her profiteering insurance companies line. She was offered a plan at a certain cost with a certain lifetime maximum and from what she is saying it was clearly one of the lower lifetime maximums. So she needs to take some of the responsibility.

    However, her situation and other points are 100% valid. Most people do not pay attention to the lifetime maximum. In the state I’m in, it is very easy to buy a policy with $5 million lifetime maximum – my agent recommends them to people. Even a $2 million maximum policy (the lowest I’ve seen of late) is over 20 years of medicine. Under such a policy, they’d pay for over 60 years for drugs.

    I wish instead of a lifetime maximum. They would have a maximum within a certain timeframe.

    However, there are some things she can do:

    1. Have your son’s doctor put you in touch with his drug salesman. My uncle had heart trouble but couldn’t afford the expensive medicine he needed. They gave it to him for free. Maybe they can give you some for free or at least offer it to you at a discounted rate.

    2. If that doesn’t work, pharmacy price shop. This includes Costco – you don’t have to be a member.

    3. Shop lab prices.

    4. If you are on a group plan, you have creditable coverage and you can switch to a different carrier and start over on the maximum if I understand correctly (double check that information with your agent and state insurance board). Also, get the highest lifetime max you can find. Note: this may require you switching jobs, starting your own business or convincing your HR dept to switch plans/carriers.

    5. If you are on an individual plan, talk to a good agent (there are a lot of lousy ones – in fact talk to multiple to confirm the information) and figure out how you can get a higher lifetime max without getting hit with a pre-existing condition.

    6. There is a chance your son is eligible for Medicaid. The rules vary by state though so you would have to check out yours.

    7. I hate to even suggest this, but research whether or not there is some way you can buy it outside the US cheaper. However, keep to a reputable pharmacy in a reputable country. In other words, avoid drugs from places like China or India.

    Finally, one piece of good news. After 15 years, all drugs are no longer patented. So hopefully a generic vendor will come on the scene and drive the prices down.

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