Thursday, September 24, 2009
US Vice President Biden at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners: "An unsustainable position"
Vice President Biden also spoke about reform as a "moral issue," noting that no one can truly be secure in their insurance with our current system. Check out highlights from the speech below, or read the full remarks at WhiteHouse.gov.
You understand first-hand this crisis. You've seen the impact on families, and on businesses, of the skyrocketing insurance premiums. You've seen the pressure it places on hard-working Americans and on businesses, who in my view overwhelmingly want to do the right thing by their employees by providing health -- decent health coverage, but are put in a really difficult spot.
And you're working hard each and every day to combat these problems and to stop the unjustifiable increases in health care costs and insurance costs, I should say, in just as -- just look at what you've been up against. I know you know it, but it's important the public know it. A report released by the White House today finds that health insurance premiums in states have gone up between 90 and 150 percent in the last decade, far faster than wages and inflation.
...All around the country -- all around the country we're seeing these gaps widen. And all in all, there was a 5.5 percent rise in premiums for families just this past year. During this Great Recession, when inflation actually fell [point] 7 percent. Inflation fell [point] 7 percent, and premiums increased 5.5 percent.
So the soaring premiums are not only hurting families and killing small businesses, they're hurting our competitive position all around the world. But as the report points out, they're hurting -- they're hurting our whole free enterprise system. They're hurting our ability to compete -- the business -- of business competing internationally.
...To state the obvious, this is simply an unsustainable position. Families, businesses, state budgets, our national economy -- all demand a significant change. And you're stuck in the middle of it all. You're stuck in the middle of it all. You read the letters. You see the tears. The people -- if it's like my state of Delaware and a lot of small states, people actually importune you on the street. They know who you are. They know your job. They come up to you. I'll bet you if I went around the room of insurance commissioners here, and ask you just to give me 10 stories, 10 stories you know first-hand from people literally approaching you -- at your home, your neighborhood, the grocery store, the football game, church -- it would be a literal saga. Well, it's happening all across America.
...I want to restore stability in our health care system. And there are basic ground rules we need right now. One, no discrimination for preexisting conditions; no exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses, deductible or copays; no cost sharing for preventive care; no dropping of coverage for the seriously ill; no gender discrimination; no annual lifetime caps on coverage -- (applause) -- extended coverage for young adults; guaranteed insurance renewal.
...And far from running insurance companies out of business, we will be building the best thing about today's -- building on the best things about today's system, with more competition, more choice for customers -- and for the insurance companies, more customers, paying customers.
So when our critics say -- the third argument I hear is they say, well, this is not a moral issue. And some of us say there is a moral component to this. Well, tell that to the father who is fighting cancer and is told that his insurance won't cover any more treatment, because he's reached the annual limits. Tell that to a little girl who is in a full body cast, requires speech and physical therapy to recover only to be denied coverage for that therapy because it's deemed "maintenance" rather than "recovery." I could go to you and you could give me 25 other stories about why this is and does have a moral component to it. Or the mother with a diabetic child who is trying to cover the cost of insulin her child needs just to stay alive.
...So there's got to be a solution. Now, I'm confident that the one we are proposing is just the solution we need. But let's face it. Let's face it, there's a dire need to make this work. According to a stark report issued last week at Harvard University, as many as 45,000 people per year die owing to a lack of health insurance -- 45,000 individuals, according to a Harvard study. How is that possible?
...If we do nothing, in 10 years one in every $5 Americans earn will be spent on health care; in 30 years, one out of every $3 will be spent on health care if we do not bend the cost curve. Spending by the federal government on Medicare and Medicaid alone will be 15 percent of GDP by 2040 -- it's now about 5 percent. Right now about 46 percent of health care is government funded through Medicare and Medicaid.
...You support reform. You've said it in your health care reform principles. You said we need to protect consumers and increase the affordability and access to insurance. You all get it. You know better than almost anyone about the inefficiencies, the cost shifting -- the bad practices that presently corrode our health care system. You know these reforms will only serve to strengthen the vital work that you do each and every day. You're the best equipped to educate consumers. You are the best equipped to field complaints. You're the best equipped to serve as a critical line of defense against the abuse and fraud that had crushed families, crushed businesses, and crushed the dreams of millions of Americans. And you'll remain so.
Folks, the problem is real. The need for reform is acute, and the time is now. The poet Virgil once said the greatest wealth is health. The greatest wealth is health. Well, we're here to improve America's health, and in the process not incidentally secure and maintain America's wealth. They are not separable.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Thanks & Regards,
Monday, September 7, 2009
Pleased to inform that my article has been published at the News Portal of Weekly Nepal and Desh Bikash Weekly Newspaper.
The full article is available at:
The Original Article has just been published Beema Samiti (Insurance Board of Nepal) - 'Insurance News and Views' (Year 8, Issue 28-30, Kartik 065 - Shrawan 066).
Hopefully, it will be available at http://bsib.org.np/new/index.php?option=download&id=59 within couple of days.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
The new rule will also allow kin of victims of road accidents to legally claim treatment cost of up to Rs 200,000 and death or permanent disability compensation amount of as much as Rs 500,000 from the vehicle owners.
According to the Department of Transport Management, a total of 850,614 vehicles are plying on the roads throughout the country. They include 19,685 buses, 7,497 mini buses, 40,437 trucks and tankers and 112,300 cars, sports utility vehicles and vans, among others.
“Even the owner of a bike will now have to pay half a million sum as compensation if an accident causes death of a person. Lack of insurance coverage will not work, as it is now duty of all vehicle owners to protect themselves from all forms of losses and liability,” Finance Minister Surendra Pandey said.
The new changes will almost double the insurance cost for the private vehicle owners. For passenger vehicles, the raise will be slightly on a higher side.
“But considering the new compensation amount, which is 10-fold of the existing amount, I believe the burden is within manageable limit,” said Pandey.
The government is enforcing mandatory insurance in the transportation sector with an aim to duly compensate the victims of roads accident and also to prevent unnecessary blockage of highways by the victims´ families.
“Our motive behind raising the death compensation amount to Rs 5 lakh from fifty thousand is to make sure that people get judicious compensation for the loss without having to resort to banda and strike. By making insurance compulsory, we wish to end hooliganism culture forever,” said Pandey.
Despite the enforcement announcement, the government, however, has not developed any mechanism to cross-check whether or not the vehicles plying on the road are covered with insurance. However, the government believes that the huge compensation obligation will compel all to correct their behavior for now. As a long-term solution, the government has made submission of insurance document mandatory for the registration and renewal of vehicles.
Minister Pandey also instructed the Insurance Board to launch aggressive information dissemination campaign so that people do not demand compensation higher than the stipulated amount.