Sunday, July 5, 2009

Health Care Reform Questions

Health care reform. That's the topic all the blogs are buzzing about as Congress begins to review the legislation that may or may not reform health care. There are many issues to be considered and many organizations involved in lobbying Congress to have their desires met. It is important that we, as those who will be helped or hurt by the bill that ultimately leaves Congress, contact our Congressional Representative and Senators with our views. Over 70% of Americans want some type of health care reform, but what that entails varies widely. Here are some of the issues to consider:

Tort reform: This entails making changes to the process by which doctors may be held to account for their mistakes in a court of law. Currently there are no limits on any medical malpractice awards. This drives up the cost of malpractice insurance and increases the cost of medical care. Since America is a litigious society, tort reform may be a necessary part of changing the way we view medical errors. Additionally, the American Medical Association currently has no nationwide format for ensuring that incompetent doctors remain unlicensed. This too may need to be changed. What's your view?

Prescription Drug Reform: The cost of prescription drugs has skyrocketed over the years. Many drugs are available for substantially lower costs outside America. In the UK, for example, almost all Rx's cost under 11 pounds (about $18). This is in stark contract to some Rx's here which can cost upwards of $600 without insurance when no generic is available. The high cost of Rx's in the first years during it's patent is meant to reimburse the company for research and development costs. Should we import lower cost Rx's into America from other countries (such as Canada) to decrease the cost of health care?

Health insurance for profit: The ability of insurance companies to make a profit has always been assumed to be a given in the health industry. This may need to change as the cost of health care rises dramatically over the coming years. How do you feel about insurance companies becoming not-for-profit to decrease the cost of health care?

Public Option vs Private Insurance only: This area of health care reform has been getting the most media attention and has the widest views. On the one hand, some in Congress believe that there should be a public health care option to compete with private insurance companies. This system would be set up on a medicare style basis, would emulate the current plan available to Congress and with existing plans already in place, would provide coverage to almost 97% of Americans. Others in Congress believe that a public option would degrade the overall quality of care available to all Americans over time and would cause employers to eventually stop offering health care as a benefit to employees. What's your view?

How to Pay for Health Care: Any plan requires payment. Even doing nothing will cost trillions of dollars over the coming years. It is agreed by all that some kind of reform is needed. America pays over 50% more for health care than the next closest nation. Considering the findings of the World Health Organization regarding the standing of America, it appears we have a great deal of decisions to make regarding the cost of health care vs the quality we receive. How should we pay for health care?

Regardless of the opinion we each hold, it is our responsibility as citizens to become educated about health care reform: what it means for each of us, how it will effect us, how much it will cost us now and in the future and what will happen if we do not address the issue. After becoming educated it is our further responsibility to contact our Congressional Representatives and Senators to share our opinions so that our elected leaders have the information necessary to represent our views when they vote on this most important legislation.

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