Earlier today I wrote about the disaster that looms for health care if John McCain is elected. We must not let that happen. If you think long and hard about the economy and the reasons why so many Americans are struggling these days to make ends meet, it’s pretty clear that health care costs are part of that equation.
In fact, as pointed out in an OP/ED in today’s WSJ, “[T]he big threat to growth in the next decade is not oil or food prices, but the rising cost of health care.”
The doubling of health insurance premiums since 2000 makes employers choose between cutting benefits and hiring fewer workers.Rising health costs push total employment costs up and wages and benefits down. The result is lost profits and lost wages, in addition to pointless risk, insecurity and a flood of personal bankruptcies.
If we want “sustained” economic growth we must have “successful health-care reform,” and “Barack Obama and John McCain propose to lead us in opposite directions — and the Obama direction is far superior.”
Barack Obama’s health care proposal will “modernize our current system of employer- and government-provided health care, keeping what works well, and making the investments now that will lead to a more efficient medical system.”
Here’s the five ways Obama will accomplish this:
- Learning. One-third of medical costs go for services at best ineffective and at worst harmful. Fifty billion dollars will jump-start the long-overdue information revolution in health care to identify the best providers, treatments and patient management strategies.- Rewarding. Doctors and hospitals today are paid for performing procedures, not for helping patients. Insurers make money by dumping sick patients, not by keeping people healthy. Mr. Obama proposes to base Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals and doctors on patient outcomes (lower cholesterol readings, made and kept follow-up appointments) in a coordinated effort to focus the entire payment system around better health, not just more care.
- Pooling. The Obama plan would give individuals and small firms the option of joining large insurance pools. With large patient pools, a few people incurring high medical costs will not topple the entire system, so insurers would no longer need to waste time, money and resources weeding out the healthy from the sick, and businesses and individuals would no longer have to subject themselves to that costly and stressful process.
- Preventing. In today’s health-care market, less than one dollar in 25 goes for prevention, even though preventive services — regular screenings and healthy lifestyle information — are among the most cost-effective medical services around. Guaranteeing access to preventive services will improve health and in many cases save money.
- Covering. Controlling long-run health-care costs requires removing the hidden expenses of the uninsured. The reforms described above will lower premiums by $2,500 for the typical family, allowing millions previously priced out of the market to afford insurance.
Add to that, “tax credits for those still unable to afford private coverage, and the option to buy in to the federal government’s benefits system,” and Obama’s plan “will ensure that all individuals have access to an affordable, portable alternative at a price they can afford.”
We simply can not afford to have more of the same. The real change is this election comes from Barack Obama. Under McCain’s health care plan, more Americans will suffer. Haven’t we had enough? I know I have.
[Originally published at TaylorMarsh.com]