Monday, December 07, 2009

The Problems to Solve

So if we were to reform the healthcare system, what exactly would we want to accomplish? Common ideas include the following:
  1. Paying the medical costs of the unhealthiest Americans (via insuring them or otherwise).
  2. Lowering the average cost of healthcare for the average American.
  3. Making better treatment options available to more people.
  4. Limiting waste in the processing of medical record and the actual practice of medicine.
  5. Making the system more transparent or easier to operate.
  6. Improve the average health of the average American.
Maybe I have missed something, but these seem to be at the heart of the whole debate. It is good to separate the goals from the proposed means to meet those goals. I believe the party split is over the methods to achieve these agreed-upon goals.

So how is the President proposing to solve or alleviate these problems?

Obama's proposals center mainly on insuring the uninsured. He proposes several solutions to that problem:
  • Prohibit insurance companies from discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.
  • Limit discrimination based on gender and age.
  • Preventing insurance companies from dropping coverage while a person is sick.
  • Requiring caps on out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Protecting existing government-based coverage.
  • Require all those that can afford it to carry health insurance.
To keep overall insurance costs lower, Obama favors a tax-funded (public) option of insurance coverage to cause private insurers to keep their prices low in order to compete.

To decrease the actual cost of care, Obama has already subsidized the switch to computerized records to save on paper costs and reduce errors (via the Recovery Act). He also favors subsidizing prevention and wellness training.

Next time we will consider the differences between the President's proposals and what Congress is actually considering.

Sources:
The White House
HealthReform.gov

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