Point number two is, in addition to those reforms, we want to make sure that we set up what’s called a health insurance exchange so that anybody who wants insurance but can’t get it on their job right now, they can go to this exchange; they can select a plan that works for them or their families — these are private-option plans, but we also want to have a public option that’s in there — but whatever you select, you will get high-quality care for a reasonable cost, the same way Congress, members of Congress, are able to select from a menu of plans that they have available. And if you’re very — if the plan that you select is still too expensive for your income, then we would provide you a little bit of help so that you could actually afford the coverage.
So the idea behind reform is: Number one, we reform the insurance companies so they can’t take advantage of you. Number two, that we provide you a place to go to purchase insurance that is secure, that isn’t full of fine print, that is actually going to deliver on what you pay for. Number three, we want to make sure that you’re getting a good bargain for your health care by reducing some of the unnecessary tests and costs that have raised rates.
Even if you have health insurance, your premiums have gone up faster than wages over the last 10 years. Your out-of-pocket costs have gone up about 62 percent, which means that for people who aren’t on Medicare right now, people let’s say 54 to — or 50-64, a lot of those folks are paying much higher premiums than they should be — hundreds or thousands of additional dollars that could be saved if we had a system that was more sensible than it is right now.
MR. CUTHBERT: We go to Margaret, in Greeley, Colorado, for our first tele-town call. Go ahead, Margaret. Margaret, are you there? Let me ask Margaret’s question for her. She wants to keep her good coverage. Will it continue with the new plan?
THE PRESIDENT: Here’s a guarantee that I’ve made: If you have insurance that you like, then you will be able to keep that insurance. If you’ve got a doctor that you like, you will be able to keep your doctor. Nobody is trying to change what works in the system. We are trying to change what doesn’t work in the system.
And this — let me also address I think a misperception that’s been out there that somehow there is any discussion on Capitol Hill about reducing Medicare benefits. Nobody is talking about reducing Medicare benefits. Medicare benefits are there because people contributed into a system. It works. We don’t want to change it. What we do want is to eliminate some of the waste that is being paid for out of the Medicare trust fund that could be used more effectively to cover more people and to strengthen the system.