That Ticking Sound is the Lifetime Limits in the Senate Healthcare Bill
By Eric Wooten
What’s your life worth? Under the Senate’s healthcare bill, a lot less than you might guess.
When President Obama promised that any healthcare bill he signed would eliminate lifetime and annual limits on coverage, members of both houses of Congress applauded.
If you have health insurance already, this sounds pretty good, right? Wrong.
Under the Senate version of the healthcare bill, caps are NOT eliminated for existing policies. If you have health insurance now, your caps remain in place, unless you can get a new health insurance policy. But since most new (and affordable) plans are only going to the young and healthy, this leaves most of us out in the cold.
So how important are lifetime limits? Given the relentless rate of healthcare inflation, caps will be a matter of life and death for hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Hidden in the sea of small print of your healthcare policy is a cap on what the insurance company will pay out in benefits over your lifetime. This is typically $1 million.
Calm down Dr. Evil, one million dollars isn’t as good as it sounds, especially when you consider that this cap isn’t adjusted for inflation.
With a rather conservative healthcare inflation rate of “just” seven percent, that million-dollar policy will be worth less than HALF that much in just 10 years. The inflation rate is so pernicious, that if you bought a policy before reading this article, by the time you finish, you’ll have lost over $5 in health benefits due to inflation. Sorry.
This problem is so severe that an estimated 300,000 Americans will reach their lifetime limit by 2019. And since most people reaching this limit have chronic conditions, any lifetime limit on their healthcare policy could be an actual limit on their lifetime.
It’s not too late for Congress and the President to insist on the language in the House version of the healthcare, which allows for no caps (grandfathered or otherwise) on healthcare coverage.
But time to fix this bill is running out, along with your healthcare benefits.
Eric Wooten runs the campaign consulting firm Capitol Coast and worked for the It’s Our Healthcare coalition where he heard firsthand the healthcare stories of hundreds of Californians.