Debate over health care reform

06/18/09 Robert Lorei
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Today WMNF presents a debate over whether the United States needs health care reform and what kind of health care reform it needs. Our guests are John Russell who is an acute care nurse practitioner from Pasco County and David McKalip who is neurosurgeon practicing in St. Petersburg.

Russell favors reform along the lines of single payer and/or the president's plan of offering a government option to compte with private health insurance. McKalip favors an expansion of medical savings accounts and de-regulation of the health insurance industry.

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John's comments about HSAs sounded like he did not approve of them. He mentioned that they were not affordable and that only the wealthy benefit from having them. I have to disagree with him for many reasons. These accounts are a great way for young people like me (26) to not have to worry about medical costs. I make less than 30K a year and I've had an HSA for about 3 years. The heath insurance plan that I initially had cost me ~$90/mnth, when I switched to my HDHP for my HSA my premium went down ~$60/mnth of which $30/mnth could be contributed to the HSA, so I netted $30/mnth that I reallocated to my retirement savings. With the tax benefit I receive from the HSA contributions I basically have free health insurance. The two plans coverage was about the same, the only difference was a $5,200 deductible as opposed to a $2,500. I recently had a cyst removed and biopsied. I called around the bay area and got as much price information from as many ENTs as I could and selected one that was the best value. The whole process cost about $460 so if I had the other $90/mnth plan I would be paying the costs of that procedure out-of-pocket and I would have $1000 less in my retirement account. With the amount my employer contributes to my HSA and my contributions I have enough in there to cover the deductible for anything severe that happens to me or any hospitalizations. As to the benefit for the wealthy, all HSA contributions are capped at $3,000 (individual) so the maximum disparity is $750, this is due to the higher tax bracket of the individual.