Commentary: Time to vote on health care overhaul

By now, every voice in the debate over health care reform has been heard from. The only thing left to do is pass the reform bill.

Admittedly, the bill under consideration is far from perfect. President Obama made a last-minute change that delays a tax on high-cost insurance policies until 2018, which adds to the immediate costs. Nor were Democrats willing to reduce or kill the tax break for employee health benefits, which would also reduce costs and produce more cost-conscious health care consumers.

But the greatest cost of all is the cost of doing nothing.

The typical bill for family coverage now runs about $13,000 a year. Reliable estimates place this at roughly $24,000 by 2020 barring a significant overhaul of the existing health care structure.

Earlier this year, the biggest health insurer in California proposed to increase premiums by 39 percent, which suggests the $24,000 estimate may be on the low side. In response to this move, the legislation would give the federal government authority to block extreme rate hikes.

Then there is the cost in lost lives.

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