Saturday, March 21, 2009

Health care reform

Another digression from my oh-so-interesting life story to touch on health policy again. As is obvious to anyone who has any contact with health care (patients, doctors, etc), health care in the United States is in bad shape. Costs are increasing dramatically, but we still rank very poorly in terms of meaningful health care outcomes. 50% of all bankruptcies in the U.S. are due to medical bills and, of these, 3/4 had health insurance at the time they became ill yet STILL became bankrupt. Doctors are frustrated with insurance hassles, employers (who provide health insurance to most Americans) are struggling with the costs, and patients are going without needed care. Meanwhile, the system itself is focused on dealing with illness and is not adequately focused on promoting wellness and providing preventive care.

President Obama has made health care a priority for his administration, and has proposed 8 principles for quality health care:
  • Protect families’ financial health.
  • Make health coverage affordable.
  • Aim for universality.
  • Provide portability of coverage.
  • Guarantee choice.
  • Invest in prevention and wellness.
  • Improve patient safety and quality care.
  • Maintain long-term fiscal sustainability.
These principles are a starting framework, and the Senate is hoping to have a bill to be voted on within the next 6 months.

This is going to be a KEY period in health care, and might determine the face of U.S. health care for the next generation. I intend to post again soon to give some thoughts on the issue.

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