There is much debate about the type of insurance proposals that will be required in the new health system currently being negotiated in Congress. President Obama has just come out in support of a public health plan, which is opposed by private insurers who say that they could not compete with a public health plan that didn’t have to make a profit. Supporters of the public plan cbdinflationcom correctly say that it would give people more choices and create more competition. Opponents argue that private health plans would go out of business, leaving only an entirely government-run health care system.
Of course all sides are exaggerating and taking up extreme positions. They will all in time compromise and hopefully reach some form of agreement. The sad part is that at present they don’t seem to be thinking of the person at the center of all this – the patient. It is widely acknowledged that health care costs far too much in this country, while at the same time at least 47 million Americans are uninsured. So, from a patients perspective, if you do have health insurance, you are paying way too much for it, and getting poor value, and if you don’t have it, then you just continue to suffer. What a dreadful choice. What an indictment of America.
The goals of overhauling the health care system are to lower costs and extend care to the uninsured. Obama wants a bill on his desk in October at the latest. Where can Congress begin to compromise, and why is it that Republicans in particular, believe that public health plans are likely to be so dreadful. What is the evidence for this belief beyond their own philosophical ideas. They regularly bring up the supposed ogre of “socialized medicine” whenever public plans are discussed, but there is no evidence whatsoever that countries with more federal control over their health systems, especially in Europe, have worse health outcomes that the USA. In fact the contrary is true, health outcomes are much better overall, and cost a lot less money per capita of population.
As a physician who has lived and worked in the USA, Australia and Britain, and who has an interest in how health services are organized, I think America could move forward in a relatively simple way as long as we always keep the patient at the center of any health system we plan. It is essential that we do not design a health system primarily to protect profit levels for some or all of the various constituents, whether they be providers, health insurers or pharmaceutical companies. We have the opportunity of picking the best parts of other health systems from around the world and including these in the eventual plan to reform American health care, and we should learn from other countries.