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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Consumer Reports and Health Care

I suspect that almost all my readers have at some time turned to a reliable source for information about the safety, reliability, and value of a home appliance, a car, an electronic device, a computer, a packaged food product, or even a mutual fund. One such source stands out for its fairness, thoroughness, independence, and reliability: Consumer Reports, published by the Consumers Union. We know their ratings by the familiar circles:
On the other hand, we have also probably made choices based on a friend's preference, celebrity association, or what "a guy who knows a guy" said. Some of those choices have come back to bite us. That's why we learned to go to a reliable source.

So when the internet, the airwaves, the cable networks, and the water cooler talk is full of all kinds of ridiculous claims about health care reform, we need a place to turn. Some say the proposals will solve all our health care problems. Does anyone really believe that? Others say to adopt these proposals will set us on the path of becoming like Soviet Russia. That is also preposterous. So where can we go to hear from someone who is looking out for consumers? Glen Beck? Ken Olbermann? I don't think so. Both of them are trying to sell us something, to get their fingers in our wallets.

That's why when the Consumer Union provides a report on health care reform, I am interested. They are not trying to play with my emotions or trick me with a sleight of hand. They have in mind specific proposals that can help consumers, and others that can hurt us. They tell about both.

And the Consumers Union says that key elements of health care reform will make a big difference to help the masses of us who are drowning in rising health costs. Take a little time to look at what they say about requiring insurance companies to do things such as
  • "Spend at least 85% of your premium on health care (at least 80% if you buy an individual policy or get your plan from a small employer), or rebate you the difference." That would stop them from robbing consumers to pay huge executive salaries.
  • "Openly compete against each other for your business based on better care and price."
  • "Clearly list what they charge, and what they cover, so you can easily comparison shop on the Internet."
They go on to say, "Of course, the industry is terrified that these controls will stop their greedy practices. Maybe that’s why they’ve been spending millions on lobbying and scary ads to make sure you don’t get these and other guaranteed benefits in the health reform bill." For specific information about how the current proposals will keep costs down, look at their paper on Oversight of Insurance Companies, Control Over Costs.

For more good information, go see their proposals about health care reform at their Consumer Reports Health website.

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