Our health care system suffers from a number of severe problems. We currently essentially have a mixed system where some people qualify for a public option (Medicaid, Medicare, federal government insurance plan), but many people do not. The costs of insurance fluctuate quickly due to a variety of market reasons, and small businesses often cannot afford true group plans.
People with long term health problems like diabetes end up discriminated in the workplace because small businesses cannot afford to insure them.
Many people have serious illnesses, like heart disease and diabetes diagnosed in the ER at stages where treatment is costly.
Other problems include the fact that we have few export restrictions on medicines, and many other countries have price controls on them, meaning that we Americans end up subsidizing drug prices in Canada, the UK, and elsewhere.
I believe that we do need health care reform. Several of the important elements were proposed by Mr Obama during the 2008 election, but few of those have made their way into law. The important elements of his proposals then which need to be implemented or expanded involve:
Opening up the federal government insurance plan to anyone who wants to pay into it, possibly with subsidies for the poor.
Focusing on technology to reduce the overhead of working with the private insurance sector. In my view this means not only an exchange system but billing/claims gateways too with standardized interfaces.
However, more fundamentally we need to rethink what we want out of our medical system. I personally believe that we should (and indeed must) abandon the current technocratic (as Robbie Davis-Floyd calls it) approach to medical care, where scientific progress and political power are closely linked. Providing the most state-of-the-art care to everyone should be abandoned as a goal-- it's costly and it doesn't provide benefits equivalent to the costs. Instead we should be looking at how we can provide better care with less. Push midwives instead of obstetricians (Holland, for example, has 40% of births occurring in homes), push self-care and home remedies instead of care from clinics and hospitals, etc.
Additionally we really should pass export restrictions which would ban the export of drugs or patent licenses for drugs where the target country has a GDP of $40k or more and where the drugs would be required, under the laws of the target country, to be sold for less than the MSRP here in the US. This would end the foreign subsidy problem.
Unfortunately the current laws passed over the last year do very little of this, and instead institutionalize exactly what is wrong with our system to begin with. The result, predictably, has been a sharp increase in insurance premiums already. It's evidence that the federal government just isn't capable of tackling this problem competently.
Perhaps a better approach would be to get rid of the current approaches and simply provide federal funding for states to experiment.
It's all I seem to be hearing in the news lately. Is this thing really going to pass after all? One thing that caught my ear, was New York state would get 12 million towards Medicaid if it does pass. It does sound encouraging, considering it's been a full-blown pissing contest between Conservatives and Liberals (and some in between, such as Independent Joe Lieberman from Connecticut). As of last night, I heard they need something like 216 … more
Healthcare reform is a general rubric used for discussing major health policy creation or changes—for the most part, governmental policy that affects healthcare delivery in a given place. Healthcare reform typically attempts to:
Broaden the population that receives health care coverage through either public sector insurance programs or private sector insurance companies
Expand the array of health care providers consumers may choose among