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Health care insurance reform

Posted Nov 13 2009 10:00pm

I was interested to see this quote in today’s Boston Globe:

President Obama, who was traveling to Asia yesterday, said in a statement that the report “underscores what experts and business people have told us all along – comprehensive health insurance reform is one of the most important investments we can make in American competitiveness.’’

Usually the discussion is about “health reform” or “health care reform,” even though the major emphasis of the bills under consideration is in fact payment reform or health insurance reform. I’m glad the President is calling it what it really is.

The headline in the print version of the article is:

Powerful health care groups emphasize cost containment; Says the overhaul must keep focus on affordability

The article is about cost containment, so that’s a good headline, and I was planning to write about that topic. But then I went online and found the same article –but with a substantially different headline.

Powerful health care groups offer optimism on overhaul; Support more coverage but want right bill

The only thing that’s the same is that the groups –in this case the Business Roundtable and the America’s Health Insurance Plans– remain “powerful.”

Health (insurance) reform does not focus on costs, and people are throwing up their hands about that. But I do think costs will be addressed a little further down the line. Once most everyone has health insurance there will be pressure to find ways to sustain coverage. That will inevitably bring out cost containment efforts, even if it takes a few years before it happens. Insurance reform won’t address the cost problem. That will need to involve reform in the system of health care delivery. That’s a bigger challenge, because while people don’t like health insurers –and are keen to see them “reformed”– the public does tend to like doctors and doesn’t want to squeeze them.

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