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Health insurance to meet super heroes

Maryalene LaPonsie | February 9, 2011

The most recently hyped graphic novel isn't about the exploits of some caped crusader. Instead, it is about the mysterious and complex world of - wait for it - health reform! Yes, health insurance, deductibles, PPOs and pre-existing conditions will all have a starring role in what is sure to be a riveting read on the inner workings of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Health reform for the masses

The graphic novel - essentially a longer version of a comic book - is being planned by Hill and Wang, a division of publisher Farrer, Straus and Giroux. The company has previously published graphic novel biographies of figures such as Ronald Reagan and Malcom X in addition to works explaining the U.S. Constitution, genetics and economics.

Writing the text of the novel is Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who played a role in the development of health reform policies. Noted in a New York Daily News article as one of the nation's "most prominent health-economics gurus," Gruber reportedly agreed to the novel after his family convinced him that health reform was misunderstood and unfairly judged.

However, make no mistake. Gruber's book isn't expected to be a page-turning story of action and adventure. There will be no tales on Congressional hi-jinks or White House heroics. Instead, the book is expected to methodically break down the 2,400 page health reform bill and explain it in plain English that is easily understood.

Understanding health reform and your health insurance options

According to Gruber, health reform is essential to sound personal finances. "There's a fundamental lack of economic security in our country," he is quoted as saying in the Boston Herald. "If you don't get insurance from your employer, you are one bad gene or one bad car accident away from losing everything."

For opponents, health reform represents a significant government intrusion on what used to be solely the domain of the free market. Under the PPACA, health insurance companies are limited in how they can administer health plans:

  • Children may not be denied medical coverage because of pre-existing conditions; in 2014, adults receive the same protection
  • Most young adults up to age 26 must be allowed coverage as dependents on their parents' group insurance plans
  • Preventive services must be covered 100 percent without any co-payment or deductibles applied
  • For most plans, at least 80 to 85 cents per premium dollar must be spent on direct health care for subscribers
  • In 2014, health insurance companies cannot charge those with pre-existing conditions higher premiums
  • Also in 2014, large businesses must provide medical coverage to their employees and all legal residents of the United States must have health insurance

While the reforms will undoubtedly provide greater health insurance options, particularly for those with pre-existing conditions, critics contend that it comes at too high a price; one that demands a loss of Constitutional rights and personal freedom.

Gruber must certainly be hoping that his novel - tentatively titled "Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It's Necessary, How It Works" - will change their minds.

Tags : health care reform, pre existing conditions

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