Obama Health Care Speech: Excerpts for Business-Minded People

Having just watched today’s entire Obama health care speech, I wanted to provide you with essential excerpts for business-minded people. There’s more to the speech, but here’s the at-a-glance, crucial information for small business owners, employees, and anyone else wondering how the plan will affect business and the economy.

The excerpts below are from the full transcript of the speech, found here. We’ll include more analysis in subsequent posts.

The plan I’m announcing tonight would meet three basic goals:

It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance to those who don’t. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government. It’s a plan that asks everyone to take responsibility for meeting this challenge – not just government and insurance companies, but employers and individuals. And it’s a plan that incorporates ideas from Senators and Congressmen; from Democrats and Republicans – and yes, from some of my opponents in both the primary and general election.

Here are the details that every American needs to know about this plan:

First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Let me repeat this: nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.

What this plan will do is to make the insurance you have work better for you. Under this plan, it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

As soon as I sign this bill, it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it most. They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime.

We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick.

And insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies – because there’s no reason we shouldn’t be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse. That makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives.

That’s what Americans who have health insurance can expect from this plan – more security and stability.

Now, if you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans who don’t currently have health insurance, the second part of this plan will finally offer you quality, affordable choices. If you lose your job or change your job, you will be able to get coverage.

If you strike out on your own and start a small business, you will be able to get coverage. We will do this by creating a new insurance exchange – a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices.

Insurance companies will have an incentive to participate in this exchange because it lets them compete for millions of new customers. As one big group, these customers will have greater leverage to bargain with the insurance companies for better prices and quality coverage. This is how large companies and government employees get affordable insurance. It’s how everyone in this Congress gets affordable insurance. And it’s time to give every American the same opportunity that we’ve given ourselves.

For those individuals and small businesses who still cannot afford the lower-priced insurance available in the exchange, we will provide tax credits, the size of which will be based on your need. And all insurance companies that want access to this new marketplace will have to abide by the consumer protections I already mentioned. This exchange will take effect in four years, which will give us time to do it right. In the meantime, for those Americans who can’t get insurance today because they have pre-existing medical conditions, we will immediately offer low-cost coverage that will protect you against financial ruin if you become seriously ill. This was a good idea when Senator John McCain proposed it in the campaign, it’s a good idea now, and we should embrace it.

…under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance – just as most states require you to carry auto insurance. Likewise, businesses will be required to either offer their workers health care, or chip in to help cover the cost of their workers. There will be a hardship waiver for those individuals who still cannot afford coverage, and 95% of all small businesses, because of their size and narrow profit margin, would be exempt from these requirements. But we cannot have large businesses and individuals who can afford coverage game the system by avoiding responsibility to themselves or their employees. Improving our health care system only works if everybody does their part.

  • Despite hefty Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate, centrists in Obama’s party have balked at the president’s proposal to create a public health care plan to compete with private insurers.

  • You might want to check out a fact-based rebuttal to most of the parsed assertions in the speech.

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2009/09/024478.php

    As business-people your readers might be particularly interested in this section:

    In fact, Obama and Congressional Democrats have zero interest in increasing choice and competition. If they did, there is an easy solution. There are over 1,000 health insurance companies in the United States; why do you think it is that in Alabama, one company has 90 percent of the business? It is because there are major legal obstacles to insurance companies operating across state lines. State legislatures, and lots of the companies, like it this way. Competition is hard. But if Obama really wanted to expand “choice and competition” in health care, all he would have to do is go along with the Republican proposal to allow health insurance companies to sell on a national basis. Like, say, computer companies, beer companies, automobile companies, law firms, and pretty much everyone else. The Democrats’ refusal to allow existing health insurance companies to compete against each other nationwide, more than anything else, puts the lie to their nonsense about “choice and competition.”

  • Ben

    MediaCurves.com just conducted a national study with 951 viewers of President Barack Obama’s speech to Congress in which he focused on his plan for healthcare reform. Results showed that more than half of all political parties reported that the speech was “somewhat or extremely effective. The study also found that the majority of Democrats reported that they have a better perception of healthcare reform after viewing Obama’s speech, while Republicans’ perceptions are relatively unchanged and Independents were split on their reactions to the speech. More in-depth results can be viewed at http://www.mediacurves.com/Politics/J7550-HealthcareSpeech/Index.cfm
    Thanks,
    Ben