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Many unsure of health reform's direct effects

March 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The house may have passed health care legislation, but the majority of Americans still have a lot of doubts about what the bill means to them individually.Many are still trying to figure out what these changes mean for their own lives. Some hope that it will bring them affordable health care, while others worry that the government is creating a huge new bureaucracy with a huge new expense.

"It's a great first step," said Altadena resident Susan Braig, a cancer survivor.

Braig said that the new health care rules give her hope. She has stacks of medical bills totaling tens of thousands of dollars that she says have driven her near bankruptcy.

"My medical debt, sometimes I wonder if I'll ever get over that hump being self employed and many months unemployed and no cushion," Braig said.

Braig said her health insurance premiums have gone up, but she can't switch to another company. She was diagnosed with cancer five years ago, and with a pre-existing condition no other insurance will take her. She hopes that now will change.

"Maybe I can drop Anthem Blue Cross and look elsewhere. Maybe now I'll be eligible for the kind of financial relief I need," said Braig.

Mike Alexander from the Pasadena Tea Party said the cost for all these changes will add another trillion dollars to an already huge debt. He says government intervention will not make health care any better.

"If you have a problem, with uninsured people or with folks who can't afford health care, what you do is you attack it as a problem of charity and social justice. You don't try to redistribute wealth throughout the system by putting it in charge by a vast, unresponsive group of bureaucrats," said Alexander.

Under the new plan, insurance companies won't be able to deny anyone for pre-existing conditions. They will have to take on an estimated 20 million people who are now uninsured.

"When you force an insurance company to accept a risk, then they cease to be an insurance company and become an instrumentality of government," described Alexander. "What they've done is to make health care a kind of a public utility in which there are no limits on the demand."

Both sides say that this is just the beginning of the battle, as democrats try to show it's a good plan while republicans try to rally opponents to a victory in November.

In response to an Eyewitness News health care poll, 21 percent said they wish the government would leave the health care system alone, 35 percent said that congress has gone too far with the new reforms, 27 percent said congress has not gone far enough with the new reforms, 15 percent support the new changes and 3 percent said they're not sure.

In the same poll, 19 percent said they expect their health care to get better with the new reforms, 41 percent said they expected it to get worse, 33 percent said they think it will stay the same and 7 percent said they're not sure.

Also, 45 percent predicted that the cost of their health care will increase with the new changes, 16 percent their costs will decrease, 35 percent said it will stay about the same and 5 percent said they're not sure.