1) A public option, which, besides creating real competition that will force insurance companies to actually serve their clients better, will also give folks to chance to opt-out of the crappy private system if they want to, and stop sending 30% or more of our premiums to line the pockets of insurance company shareholders.
2) Creates a health insurance exchange that will enable individuals like me who don't get insurance through an employer to get the same benefits that group buyers do.
3) Caps out-of-pocket expenses, which for me and my family can currently be more than $20,000 annually.
4) Prevents insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, which is the major reason Julie and I currently have absolutely no choice in which health insurance we use and therefore no recourse whenever Humana decides to screw us over. If other insurers would cover us, we could shop around for a better plan and actually let the market work the way it's supposed to.
5) Subsidies to help poor Americans get coverage - another measure that might benefit my family directly, since, as a graduate student, I currently have very little actual income. I also think that, whatever other nice features the bill offers, the most important thing is making sure that the millions of people who can't currently afford health care are in fact covered. No one should have whether they live or die or can live healthily be determined by how much money they (or their parents) make.
6) An amendment to keep federal funds from covering abortions (though individuals still have the right to pay for their own abortion coverage). While I know most liberals won't like this one, I for one am glad that this issue will be taken off the table and therefore cannot be used as a red-herring by the Right to block the entire bill. I also think its fair that those of us who disagree with the practice of abortion shouldn't have to have our tax dollars used to pay for them.
Anyhow, here's to hoping these features survive in the Senate's version of it. It's exciting to think that something might actually happen with all of this. That substantial change for the better is in fact possible.
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