I just wrote my senator

I just wrote an email to my senator, Lindsey Graham.  If you want health care reform, I urge you to be doing the same.  We have to speak up to our representatives, not in the form of mob behavior, as health care reform opponets are doing, but through respectful civic engagement.  I’m posting what I wrote to Senator Graham here in hopes that it will inspire others to write.

Dear Sen. Graham,

First of all I want to thank you for voting to confirm Sonya Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Only 9 members of your party did so, and this shows that you have the courage to vote to confirm a competent justice rather than use the Supreme Court to play party politics. I really appreciate it.

The real reason for me writing this letter is to encourage you to continue to show your courage by supporting real health care reform which includes a public option. Please don’t listen to the loud voices of mobs, but to the quiet voices of citizens who really need reform. My husband is a pediatrician. We both believe that a public option is the only way to get real reform. This is why:

Insurance only “works” by creating really really large pools of risk. The larger the pool, the lower the costs, and the lower the premiums. For this reason, the insurance industry tends toward consolidation. Mergers lead to lower administrative costs and higher profits. They also have every incentive NOT to pay for actual healthcare at every possible opportunity. This is where we get ridiculous concepts like recision, which should absolutely be illegal, and the general run of the mill having to BEG your insurer to actually cover anything at all. I do not pretend that my insurer would actually pay for anything I didn’t fight tooth and nail for.

Because of the tendency toward consolidation, there is little to no competition in the industry in some 97% of markets. I have Blue Cross Blue Shield through my employer, but were I to actually go out on the private market and attempt to secure my own insurance, I’d probably also end up with BCBS, as it’s all there is here. And it’s not like a new startup could just come to SC and compete. They’d never be able to scrape together a large enough pool on the spot to compete premium wise with BCBS. The only entity big enough to create a large enough pool to be a viable alternative and inject some competition into the health insurance market is the federal government, period. To pretend that somehow the free market will produce competition in this area is laughable.

Not to mention that by some magic an alternative were available, it basically takes a law degree to understand the forms. I have an entire BOOK from BCBS explaining to me in legalese all the myriad ways they’d love to screw me over. Not to mention, it’s not like hospitals have a menu, so you can compare say, MRI prices from one to another. There is just very little way to be a smart consumer in the free market in this area, which is why some sort of federal base line standards and prices would do a world of good.

Finally, as someone who recently experienced unemployment, I truly believe that we have to get away from tying insurance coverage to employment. I lost my health insurance right at the time I was most financially vulnerable. 50% of bankruptcies are related to health care costs, and I can see why. I could not have afforded COBRA on my unemployment benefits. It would have taken my entire allotment and then some. I am fortunate that my husband is a state employee and I could get on his insurance, because many people do not have that luxury. What if my entire family had depended on my employer-provided coverage? With unemployment on the rise, now is the time to make this change. 14,000 people lose their insurance each month. I was one of them. Insurance should be portable!

Again, thank you for your courage in confirming Sonia Sotomayor. Please keep up the good work and support real health reform in the form of a public option.

[Ernie Bufflo]

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