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August 17th, 2009
09:48 PM ET

Send us your health care questions!

AC360°

Health care reform has become quite a contentious issue over the weeks. Actually, make that years, or decades, depending on how you look at it. The rhetoric has ramped up on all sides of this debate and politicians, special interest groups and members of the public are weighing in with their concerns and opinions.

We're looking beyond the political battle at the proposed health care reform plan. We want to know what questions you have about the plans to overhaul the health care system. Do you need more clarification? What is most important to you?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta will answer your questions and give you specific information about what the reform could mean for you and your medical care.

Post your questions here!


Filed under: 360° Radar • Dr. Sanjay Gupta • Health Care
soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. Lauren

    All I've heard about so far about insurance companies no longer being able to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions is that they cannot deny because of pre-existing MEDICAL conditions. What about mental health care and more specifically, out-patient mental health care? As a former mental health professional I know of many, many people who are denied coverage because they have previously been treated on an out-patient basis by a therapist for depression, eating disorders, anxiety, adult ADD, PTSD, OCD, etc. How will coverage for mental illness be addressed in this new plan.

    Thank you.

    August 19, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  2. Miriam, NY

    Hi Anderson,

    I have a few questions –
    1. Overall opinion – "Fibroids start for women around 35 years". It is supposed to be something "less" or something "more" !!!! Well, whatever be the end result, you are carrying some masses in your stomach. It is very scaring during pregnancy and more over I think it is a myth , but there is an opinion that fibroids leads to pre-term babies. Is there something woman can start to have 'shorts' after 35 years? We anyway go for our yearly checkup, can there be some kind-of 'shorts'? It is most definitely not cancerous, but can there be some process to stop these growths after 35. There is also another opinion that these fibroids stop around about 45. Not that it matters, but sometimes you tend to feel the weight.
    2. Labor for delivery – What about women who dilate at a faster rate? Is there a way to know during the second delivery to be slightly more careful? Not a big show stopper with lot of benefits from 911, but is there something that can be done early?

    August 18, 2009 at 9:49 pm |
  3. george in MD

    I say NO health-care plan ,NO tax funded care for illegals or uninsured and you keep repeating 47million uninsured American ,that's not accurate from the 47million uninsured is 30million illegal immigrants.

    August 18, 2009 at 9:43 pm |
  4. mark

    Health care costs are running at 17% of GNP and increasing. This is obviously a concern for domestic business and will in effect contribute significantly to holding down wages of the working class employees. It appears that big businesses with employees working in the US benifit by shifting the cost of health care for its employees to the public sector. Shifting costs will put the expense of health care on the individual or the american public at large.

    This may be needed in order to help our companies compete in the world market.

    Insurance by the very nature of the business is a "socialized" program which allows large numbers of individuals to share risk. Without insurance each individual bears the risk alone and is required to pay for individual costs out of pocket or do without.

    We have socialized programs to provide for public education, national defense, to pay for roads, highways.

    Whats the issue?

    August 18, 2009 at 9:42 pm |
  5. jr

    What we can do about healthcare:

    1. Existing insured will continue with their employer paid insurance. But government will monitor. All employers should be paid insurance in the 1st week of employement.
    2. The laid of f workers will be taken care with public options. After getting job, they would be given an option to continue with public option or employer paid insurance.
    3. The entire cobra will be converted to public options.

    August 18, 2009 at 9:40 pm |
  6. Linda

    I'm a single adoptive mom of one child, a 10 year old. Why do I have to pay the same rates as a 2 parent family of 10 children?

    Additionally, my insurance company has made me change doctors 3 times in 18 months. This is a nightmare and only causes more issues and more paperwork. Is forbidding this part of the any health care plan currently being discussed?

    August 18, 2009 at 9:32 pm |
  7. Rich

    Insurance companies aren't the source of rising health care costs, hospitals and doctors are.

    If we really want to reduce health care costs, we need to address the issue with the doctors and hospitals.

    August 18, 2009 at 9:28 pm |
  8. Deirdre

    I have one of the many horror stories our family has lost everything.I want to know if Doctors will be required to participate in any plan that is decided.
    I had a doctor several years back who's comments to me and my Mother during a first visit left my 73 year old mother in tears.I beacame ill had a long stay in the hospital and was unable to work.My mother took the brunt of all the bills,lost all of her savings after working at the same company for 40 years as well as a reverse mortgage on the home she has.It took about 5 years to get approved thru medicaid for a operation i needed. The specialist i was seeing had told me i needed to find a regular MD too help with my care and medications etc.
    So we went to a new Dr office close to the house.The doctor came in and proceeded to tell us that "I don't mean to throw you under the bus,but people like you dont benifiet me at all,I am running a business here and i would find no profit in it"
    Needless to say we were both devistated as my Mother told him we would pay cash thru her tears he said that it didnt matter.
    Its too late for us now.

    August 18, 2009 at 9:23 pm |
  9. marie

    Obama says we won't loose our private insurance – but how can he or anyone say that with such certainty? It's up to my employer and if it costs less to pay the penalty, why wouldn't they stop providing the benefit of insurance and force me to go on the public option? I heard any change in insurance causes you to go to the public option. Why can't anyone just tell the truth and give a straight answer? What is it, I will or will not lose my insurance with my company?

    August 18, 2009 at 9:20 pm |
  10. bill hilliard

    Dear Anderson,

    Speaking as someone turned down for health insurance because I took a hay fever medication (now sold over-the-counter), and as someone with a wife who is uninsurable due to pre-existing conditions, I am very concerned about President Obama's unwillingness to insist on a government health care option. The insurance companies have no incentives to change our system in the ways required.

    NEW IDEA:

    If young people could choose to buy into the medicare system before their eligibility date as one of their insurance options, wouldn't that improve the average health of medicare's pool? Why not let me purchase medicare insurance if I desire it? This government option is self-funding without new taxes. It doesn't create a new government bureaucracy. And a younger, healthier pool of patients helps medicare fund itself. Plus, more medicare participation gives medicare more clout to reduce costs.

    And one thing more, most health-care objectors complain that medicare is not great coverage. Therefore, how can they complain if I'm willing to pay a full and fair price to buy it because I disagree? It looks darn good to me to pay taxes to medicare to buy insurance as an option.. I'd prefer to have one service interested in preventative medical care for me now so they pay less to cover me later.

    Bill

    August 18, 2009 at 9:17 pm |
  11. Pamela Burget

    The truth-you're kidding-no one on CNN tells the truth when it comes to Obamacare. If you told the truth you would NOT be getting any more interviews with Obama. He doesn't like anyone disagreeing with him.
    Don't waste your time with those of us who know where we get the truth and where we don't. CNN newspeople are OBAMA worshipers, everyone knows that. I watch Nancy Grace on CNN, that's it. She doesn't talk about politics.

    August 18, 2009 at 9:07 pm |
  12. Moe Peak

    It's not who's President thats the problem or which party is in power.
    There will never be a even playing field in the united states as well as most countrys, look you live in a country that still promotes hate toward others and supports racism but you try to hide it. And as mention in some of the other comments the same groups in power that are fighting over this problem, will never have it or live it, and thats what I find so sad. There will never be a fair system for all in the states, until it becomes the united states, for now it should be called the divided states of america, rich on one side poor on the other. And for this reason, anderson cooper keeping them honest, give your head a shake, this kind of reporting although sometimes factual will never change the hearts and mines of those in power they will still make their T' time golf anyone. Take care and good luck. Moe.

    August 18, 2009 at 9:03 pm |
  13. Kim

    Outline Objectives on Bill " 3200 "and 1000 pages ! Clarity eliminates confusion ! 1000 pqges for the, "Land of a Thousand Dances !" Do not enter death panels ! To risky !

    August 18, 2009 at 8:57 pm |
  14. Dr.Sayini Devarajan

    Healthcare Plans: OBAMA Vs McCain

    Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee John McCain have dramatically divergent visions of how to reshape the health insurance system.

    For example, Obama wants to require parents to provide health insurance for their children, while McCain does not. Both proposals are complex, and both candidates have offered broad outlines of what they would do — without some key specifics.

    Here are some of the ways the Obama and McCain plans would affect workers at large and small companies, as well as those individuals who don't get insurance through a job.

    Obama plan: Key elements

    Goal: Keep employer coverage similar to how it is now. Reduce monthly premiums by about $2,500 per family each year.
    How: Savings would come from more efficiency, such as a $50 billion, five-year bid to improve computer-based medical records.
    ·
    What's required: Large employers who don't make a "meaningful contribution" to the cost of quality coverage for workers — and those who don't offer coverage at all — would pay an unspecified amount into a fund. The fund would help expand insurance options, including a new national plan with benefits similar to those offered to federal workers.

    McCain plan: Key elements McCain plan: Key elements

    Goal: Give consumers more choices by providing more access to insurance plans in other states. Tax workers on the value of their job-based health insurance to try to offer more equality between people who get coverage through their jobs and people who buy their own. Workers now get health benefits tax-free, but people who buy their own insurance outside work don't get a similar tax break.

    How: Taxes on insurance benefits would be offset by a refundable tax credit: $5,000 for families and $2,500 for single people. At first, those credits are expected to cover the additional taxes for workers in most tax brackets. Over time, rising insurance costs could outstrip the credit.

    ·
    What's required: Employers would not be required to contribute to workers' health care coverage. Employers would still have the option of writing off the cost of providing health insurance benefits.

    Obama plan: What the analysts say

    Premium savings may be possible over time if all of Obama's ideas are "aggressively" pursued, says an analysis by the Urban Institute, a think tank!! About 22.1 million workers — mostly from smaller companies could see their employers drop coverage and shift them into Obama's proposed national plan, says an analysis by the Lewin Group, a health care consulting firm. Obama hasn't said whether workers from large companies would be eligible for the national plan, which aims to help people who work for small companies buy their own coverage.

    McCain plan: What the analysts say

    An estimated 16.1 million employees and their dependents work for companies that would likely drop coverage under McCain's plan, the Lewin Group says. That loss would be partly offset by an increase of 6.4 million workers, mostly those who didn't sign up for insurance before but would enroll in company coverage for the first time because the tax credit would basically make it free. Large employers likely would still offer insurance, but younger, healthier workers may be able to buy their own for less money, leaving mainly older, sicker workers under the employer's umbrella. That could result in higher premiums for workers who remain and could lead some employers to drop coverage.

    Obama plan: Key elements

    The exchange could help workers at small companies and individuals buy insurance, but the new rules saying insurers must cover everyone could drive up costs, says an analysis in the policy journal Health Affairs by several authors, including a McCain adviser.

    McCain plan: What the analysts say

    More people, including those with medical problems, could get comprehensive health coverage — about 29.6 million more by 2013, according to the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center. Obama would not require everyone to carry insurance, so he would not completely end the problem of uninsurance, says an analysis by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that studies health policy.

    McCain plan: What the analysts say

    Healthy individuals would see lower costs, while older or sicker people would see prices rise, says a Congressional Budget Office analysis of a similar 2005 proposal to allow insurers to sell across state lines. About 4.6 million more people would gain coverage by 2013, the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center say. The tax credit amount could cover the cost of an individual policy for young and healthy workers but would be unlikely to do so for older or sicker people, the Lewin analysis says. Individual who buys insurance.

    August 18, 2009 at 8:52 pm |
  15. Van

    Hi –

    I'm a Canadian living in the US. Just wondering how it is possible that the same Nasonex spray in Canada costs $20 while it costs $90 retail here. Also, a 30 day supply of Allegra costs $62 retail in the US and only $15 in Canada where my family lives. Might be time to look at how drug prices are regulated here and how it can be overhauled to help residents.

    August 18, 2009 at 8:48 pm |
  16. darren

    When Standard Oil and Trust created a monopoly the government justifiably stepped in and created laws that prevent monopolies and protect the consumers/people. But this was accomplished without government interfernence...only by regulation. Why not try stonger regulation before taking such a drastic change that nobody seems to understand

    August 18, 2009 at 8:16 pm |
  17. Sisilia

    Is the White house can pay me back for my money I used to pay my doctors pills from my work companation?it was over tenthousand dollars,because I did not file it on my tax2008.I forget it and now I pay you(gov.)for every month untill I will pay it off.Is the White house can talk with all the doctors and Hospitals and Insurance and be honest I mean very truly honest to tell the people they will be goodtakingcare?because us people are the one who need the healthcare not the Ins. or Hospitals,trees or rocks etc.The doctors are free because they are doctors.But what kind a healthcare they need?Is the White house (I mean the human)have a life and health for sale?I want a honest and very respectful talk. To build up a new world respect each other and love each other.

    August 18, 2009 at 8:11 pm |
  18. Joanie

    Dr. Gupta,

    As a doctor, do you think a single payer health reform would put power to treat patients back in the hands of the physician, where it belongs? Local doctors in my community seem to support this.

    Best Wishes, Joanie

    August 18, 2009 at 8:06 pm |
  19. Cloclo

    I am a freelance medical trilingual interpreter and have recently been appalled at the number of foreigners, and particularly pregnant women from Mali who are coming to the US only to give birth then return to their country. Medicaid picks up the bill. Same thing for numerous illegal Latinos who get cld birth, cancer, and other costly treatments free of charge, no question asked.

    On the other hand, I make an adequate salary as an independent interpreter but cannott afford medical insurance and don't qualify for MedicaIf so I skip the pap smears and mammograms, praying that Iwill stay healthy.

    I wonder how much of the US citizens tax dollars have been, and are still be squandered this way, and if this expense, however small it is compared to the overall cost of the proposed health care system could be addressed and reduced. Ever little bit helps.

    August 18, 2009 at 7:56 pm |
  20. Arlene Gordon

    Why is it that the issues most germane to the "Health Care Reform" are those that are being swept under the table? The aforementioned issues are tort reform, abuse and waste. Fix these and there will be enough resources available to make the system work.

    August 18, 2009 at 7:31 pm |
  21. Terry Pearce

    The profit motive is undoubtedly beneficial in spurring new innovation in health care. But the drug companies spend more than $50 billion advertising drugs directly to consumers, people who are the least qualified to make decisons about which drugs are best. Does the proposed reform attack this problem directly as part of the "waste" in the system? $50 billion would buy a lot of preventative care.

    August 18, 2009 at 7:29 pm |
  22. Mickey

    Anderson,I have an idea. Most people without health insurance are either unemployed or getting some form of Gov, aid. Why not just expand Medicare and take $100 from their Gov.check like they do for those on Medicare.Those who are working,(for small employers) and have no insurance,take $100 per month mandatory.Those who work for large companies(set a limit) must carry private insurance and private insurance companies must adhere to rules re:pre-conditions etc Large private companies cannot have an option and cannot join the Gov.Ins. Bingo, now everyone's happy! Just expand Medicare with the above rules.I'm not a rocket scientist, but this sure is common sense!

    August 18, 2009 at 7:27 pm |
  23. Tammy

    I know how drug companies can save money stop putting their drug commercial on TV. I bet that costs a pretty penny. My doctor should prescribe what medicine he feels is best for me. Then the insurance companies should pay for it. I don't think they can because of the money they are putting out for advertisements.

    August 18, 2009 at 7:04 pm |
  24. Tammy

    am afraid of the scenarios that nothing goes through and the insurance companys keep raising their prices were then the companies cannot afford to keep health insurance for their employees. We know the bottom line is a profit for the companies that is why they are in business. Lets say the companies get to were they can't afford and they tell their workers they cannot afford to offer health care anymore. Then we try to go out and get private coverage and the insurance companies deny us. For diabetes or high blood pressure or we are over weight. My daughter tried to get private coverage for her self. She was healthy and young 24 years old and 15 lbs over weight they denied her. They can deny you for anything. They either deny us or raise our premiums were we cannot afford it ourselves.The insurance companies are doing this right now. Our family deductible right now has went up to 2000 dollars, they do not want to pay anything upfront and drugs copays are going up. Companies are not going to stand by and lose profits. I am afraid if nothing goes through the insurance companies are going to feel like they can do anything they want. The last time nothing happened with health care they came out with this preexisting conditions, and now they tell you if you can have this medicine or surgery. And the cost went through the roof. Watch the news its on there everyday. I went to the emergency room a couple months ago on a Sunday I felt like I was having a heartache I am 50 years old and they demanded I pay them my deductble right then and there, (that was for emergency room care )it was 200.00. They use to bill you for that. After they ran test found out I had Gerd then the insurance would not even cover nexium that the doctor said I needed. I go throught this all the time. this is not Medicare or Medicaid people. This is company insurance. I have a PPO. Lets get real they went greedy long time ago. These banks and insurance companies are in bed together. Look what they did to our country just in the last 12 months. People better wake up. No one will have insurance. No ONE. How come no one is talking about what else could happen? You know all it takes is one big company to stop offering health care and all the other companies will follow suit. Why do you think they send their companies over seas or to Mexico, well it is lower wages and health care cost. Unions are not going to help you. The new Fiat is going to be built in Mexico did we not just give them bail out money–hmmmmm

    August 18, 2009 at 6:55 pm |
  25. Billy, WV

    Why does a public option have to be "all or nothing" deal? I'm an adult, I believe in compromise, and I know the benefits of preventative care.

    Can the government not work out an option that provides low-cost preventative services and coverage for accidental injuries?

    August 18, 2009 at 6:53 pm |
  26. Debra Thomas

    If President Obama is so concerned about Health Care Reform why hasn't he taken the time to acknowledge the BEST and ONLY Health Care System in the Country that won the 2008 Malcolm Baldrige Award? Yes, Poudre Valley Health System is the only Health Care System to win the award and is still waiting for President Obama to place us on his schedule. I would think he would want to consult with our CEO Dr. Rulon Stacey on how we have continued to give Quality Care at Low Cost and provide "World Class" Service. We have exceeded Customers expectations, while creating a culture where staff love coming to work. President Obama is missing a great opportunity. I have sent three emails to the White House only to be ignored. I have tried to call and can not get through. The Commerce Department made a video that should be seen by anyone that has a vote on what the "REFORM" is going to look like. Please come to Fort Collins and Loveland Colorado if you want to see an Excellent Health Care Provider that works.

    August 18, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  27. Ardian Hasko

    You are all dreaming to think that a civil debate will be allowed by the HMOs and their puppets: Paid politicians...

    What is happening is the work of professional Thugs in suits and ties. The healthecare uneducation is allarming to the point that people that are being forclosed and in debt and in failing health are the ones to oppose, scream and think that they will have the plug pulled. Take the first Black President (the black guy) associate it with the word Socialism and Death Panel and you got yourself an angry base (no matter what party they belong). Useless to say let's copy the French model. Some of these people don't know where France is located on the map. Everybody in all TV interviews keep saying: " The president, We, They, Us... ought to"...We are in an ERA where too much discussion will bring to nothing as it does usuallyand lately. They (congress) have to pass the bill they want without any bi-partisan support and take the Blame or Glory afterwords. No Politician takes responsability of tehir actions or words anymore. They never confirm or deny anything on interviews scared they will be rebutted with their own words later. The base will be electrified when they are not forclosed on anymore, their 3 month old child is refused care at a Hospital because the HMO doesn't cover that particular hospital and they will see their employers happy to spend less and cover more benefits. Dear Angry Mob, Please go and watch Sicko by Michael Moore again, Travel the world a little like I have and you will understand. The Thugs scaring you know exactly what they are doing and it is all for money. HAVE you heard any Senator or Representative complain about their OWN PERSONAL GOVERMENT RUN / Provided Healthcare that they and tehir families receive beside Pres. Obama himself? NO! Why not! Because it is awesome and it is the same our veterans receive and it is great and they can't associate Government with Great Healthcare otherwise they will lose this debate.
    I am ready for reform as all those screaming scared people are. Anderson, you should invite some Real people on your panel sometimes...instead of the usual suspects.

    August 18, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  28. Toni, Vermont

    Are hospitals compensated by insurance companies for keeping "empty beds"?

    August 18, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  29. Edna

    What about alternative Medicine? Chriropractor and Holistic Medicine? Would I be able to choose my primary physician and get second opinion if necessary?

    August 18, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  30. sjvinc

    Anderson, I would love to see either you and or CNN do a study on the actual cost to tax payers for the additional protection needed at these events to protect the public when someone carries a weapon to the events.

    These individuals might be exercising their right to carry this weapon, but they do not have the right to fire upon the public. For that reason additional law enforcement or security is always needed in one form or another.

    Maybe these individuals should have to pay a fee which would cover the actual cost they are adding to the tax payer for the additional protection required by their desire to exercise their 2nd amendment right!

    Look at this most recent event, where the guy carried a A15 and the so called reporter had a hand gun. I heard a report on Rick Sanchez where there were several secret service and several police officers assigned to watch these individuals. The reporter stated the Secret Service and Police circled the two individuals in order to protect the public. How many was there and what is the actual cost for this additional protection to the public? I don't know about you, but given our history – I trust no one with a gun at any public event! If they are not charged with protecting the public, they should not be carrying a weapon! If they want to carry that weapon, let them pay a fee to do so at these events, then the fee will cover the additional expense they are costing the American Tax Payer! I do not think this fee should be tiny either. It should be a rough estimate of the maximum amount of protection required for that individual to bear arms at public events.

    If you have 6 extra security for this one person, that should be the cost of 6 security individuals at OT rates since most of our police or other Security detail always covers these events on OT pay!

    August 18, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  31. Penny

    The interesting comment that European doctors "only" earn $100K +/- doesn't take into consideration that US physicians are generally self-employed and bring in similar incomes - after expenses, salaries, insurance, license fees, periodic proficiency exams, retirement plan contributions for themselves and their employees, etc.

    August 18, 2009 at 6:01 pm |
  32. Penny

    The co-op insurance option may not be as good as it sounds. As a nonprofit employee insured under such a group, I witnessed the steady double digit cost increases over 9 years. Why? Because the (over 100 organizations) non-profit organization members were non-profits. That meant that the employees were most often older than average groups and/or worked with "dangerous" populations such as AIDS victims.

    August 18, 2009 at 5:56 pm |
  33. Lilibeth

    If the bill is passed, will I be able to choose what kind of coverage I want?

    Lilibeth
    Edmonds, Washington

    August 18, 2009 at 5:47 pm |
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