Thursday, May 16, 2013


Angelina Jolie recently made the news for having a double mastectomy.  Her mother died at age 58 from breast cancer, and suffered for quite a while.  It was an ugly thing for Jolie to endure, and when she learned she had genetic markers that made her at high risk, she took no chances.  Her double mastectomy reduced her chance of aggressive cancer from 87% to around 5%.

Her story has brought the test into the spotlight, and that’s a great thing.  Most insurance companies will not pay for the test unless the patient has already had cancer (helpful, eh?) so women who have histories of breast cancer in the family are forced to pay around $3,000 out of pocket for the test.  That’s too much for most people to handle, and if they get a positive result, preventative steps such as a double mastectomy may not be covered by insurance.  Through prohibitive costs and lack of coverage, our medical choices are narrowed.

The good news is, premiums are coming down and increased competition and transparency has caused insurance companies to drive harder bargains and provide more services.  Several sources have already projected that Obamacare will lower premiums and medical care costs.  It seems that under Obamacare, men will pay slightly more, women may pay slightly less, older will pay slightly less and the young will pay a little more.  That sure sounds to me like the cost is being made level, since women and the elderly have long been gouged by a slanted system.  There is also an expected trend forcing more preventative care options at lower rates.  In other words, women who live in fear of cancer that has robbed them of their sisters, mothers and cousins, may be better able to afford tests like the one Angelina Jolie used to save her life.  People may have to pay more, but they will get more in return.

And people may not have to pay that much more.  Thinkprogress has already pointed out an instance in which insurance companies voluntarily lowered costs to remain competitive.  This was directly brought about by the expectations and practices of Obamacare.  It is also likely the first in many concessions between insurance and healthcare providers to stay on top when millions of people flood the market.  A giant is toppling, and there will be consequences of all kinds, but so far Obamacare has done nothing but deliver on its promise.

It isn’t a perfect system, but it was the right call to fix this from the top down.  Besides, anything is better than listening to Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter whine about his oppression from his multi-million dollar castle.

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