Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Calorie Labeling will Go National

Thanks to the new Health Care Reform legislation, national chains will be required to list calories on the food they serve. Marion Nestle writes about it on her blog which you can read here: http://www.foodpolitics.com/2010/03/calorie-labeling-to-go-national/

You can also read about it here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100323/ap_on_re_us/us_calories_on_menus

Because of my actual work, I've been following the HCR legislation pretty closely, and mostly liked what I saw. Several years ago, I found out my family couldn't get an individual health insurance policy at any price because of pre-existing conditions within our family (my son has autism, my husband has been on anti-depressants and I've had skin cancer).

In other words, prior to this legislation, my husband had to have a job with benefits. He could not be self employed (like myself), and if he was to lose his job and COBRA benefits ran out, then we would be left without insurance.

So needless to say, when I found out that they wanted to tax things like self-tanning salons and soda to pay for universal health insurance, I was all for it. I'm more then willing to pay a little extra for a soda or to lie on a tanning bed so that I know my family can always get health insurance.

What has amazed me is the flurry of mis-information that has surrounded this bill. It's indeed shameful the state to which our political system has devolved. We will essentially have EXACTLY the same system of health insurance we had before. Employers will be the primary system for delivering insurance to the employed, Medicare will still provide for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor and disabled.

What will change is that their will be a system of "exchanges" set up in states to provide for people who can't get insurance through their employers, and employers with more than 50 employees will pay a fine if they don't provide basic health insurance to employees. Insurance companies will be more closely regulated so they can't deny you insurance for pre-existing conditions nor drop you once you become sick.

It is not a socialized system of medicine (which BTW we already have since Medicare and Medicaid are actually the two biggest providers of HC benefits in the country). And, the legislation is currently scored to actually reduce the deficit, not increase it.

Throw in the national calorie counts, and I'm feeling pretty good about all this.


  1. I'm glad you understand it and can explain some of it to us. I, too, think the tax is a good idea.

  2. My daughter had to read "The Healing of America" by T.R. Reid for a class and I've been reading it as well.

    There are basically four types of health care throughout the world -- and we have them all in the U.S.

    "For most working people under sixty-five, we're Germany, or France or Japan. The worker and the employer share the premiums for a health insurance policy. The insurer picks up most of the tab for treatment, with the patient either making a co-payment or paying a percentage.

    "For Native Americans, military personnel, and veterans, w'ere Britain, or Cuba. The VA and much of the Pentagon's Tri-Star system involves doctors who are government employees working in government owned clinics and hospitals. Americans in these systems never get a medical bill.

    "For those over sixty-five (and those on Social Security disability and those on dialysis), we're Canada. U.S. Medicare is essentially a National Health Insurance scheme, with near-universal participation and the low administrative costs that characterize such systems.

    "For the 45 million uninsured Americans, we're Cambodia, or Burkina Faso or rural India. These people have access to health care if they can pay the bill out of pocket at the time of treatment, or if they're sick enough to be admitted to the emergency ward at a public hospital, or if they have access to a charity clinic.

    "And yet we're like no other country, because the United States maintains so many separate systems for separate classes of people, and because it relies so heavily on for-profit private insurance plans to pay the bills. All the other countries have settled on one model for everybody, on the theory that this is simpler, cheaper, and fairer. With its fragmented array of providers and payers and overlapping systems, the U.S. health care system doesn't fit into any of the recognized models."

    The German system of health care has been in place since the middle of the 19th century. I think the German or French system would be great for the U.S. for a number of reasons. One being that no matter what insurance carrier you have, any office visit or procedure costs the same. Also, paperwork is minimal.

    I'm so happy this bill passed -- both as a health care professional and personally.

  3. Being that I cover health care as one of my regular beats, I've done alot of analysis of foreign health care systems. What has always amazed me is the level of disinformation US health care consumers have been given and believe about these other systems.

    My husband works for a Canadian company, and far from hating their system, they all just think we're nuts and don't want to come here to lose their benefits. The few who have been relocated here, all complain about how bad are health care is here compared to what they have at home.

  4. I have a number of friends on Medicare who didn't want this health care bill passed because they believed it to be socialized medicine. I'm not sure whether or not to tell them that Medicare is a form of socialized medicine.

    The lobbyists against this bill have done a good job! I heard one health insurance executive admit that what they were saying was nothing but propaganda.