Trigger happy


I think we may have dodged a bullet.

I woke up cautiously optimistic today about our chances for some real health care reform in this country. After watching the dispiriting circus of the past few months, it seems we are moving towards significant reform, especially now that the senate version will include a public option. Why this has even been a sticking point when vast majorities country wide approve of one is beyond me. Well, not really beyond me, but I hate being so cynical as to think that everyone against it is in the pocket of the insurance companies. Perhaps one or two of them really does believe that the “free market” is wonderful in the case of health care. Look how well it has already worked out. Perhaps they really believe that it would be “unfair” for the government to compete against the private sector in this area. Perhaps they don’t give a flying fig whether or not “some” people (read: poor) ever have health care.

Although not perfect, I am strongly in favor of this “opt out” public plan, because in practice I believe it will be hard for state governments to opt out unless they completely ignore the will of the people. Maybe some states like Texas will want to do that, but even there I would be surprised. The ridiculous idea of a trigger was upsetting from the start. I mean really, what was the point of that. “Gee, now that the insurance companies know we are REALLY serious about reform, they are going to lower their prices and change their practices…or else we pull the trigger.” What utter bullshit. A trigger is just a way for congress to kick the can down the road, doing nothing while pretending they are. There are almost no cases where a trigger provision in a congressional bill has actually resulted in the proposed trigger action happening (see here, here, and here).

Travel tip: Insurance


For those of you out there traveling for long periods of time outside the US (or inside for that matter) I highly recommend getting yourself some travel health insurance.  It will cover things like emergency evacuation and repatriation, as well as normal health care costs when outside the US (and sometimes inside).  The best site I have found for buying this insurance is Seven Corners.  I just bought my second insurance plan from them (the first was for last year in India).  It is very easy to choose your options, fill out the online form and printout your insurance card instantly. I am also pretty damn impressed by how reasonable the rates are.  It is quite a bit less expensive than regular health coverage in the US, and there doesn’t seem to be much missing from the plans (that I would need anyway). The only thing I am unsure of (and hope to remain unsure of) is the difficulty of reimbursement.  Let’s hope I never have to write that part of the review, but the peace of mind of having health insurance is pretty grand in principle.