The hot topic currently dominating American news headlines is President Obama's proposed healthcare reforms, and with both Congress and the Senate on their August recess until September 8th speculation is running rampant as to what actions, if any, will be implemented by the proposed House Healthcare Bill titled "America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009". There has been much argument on both sides of the political arena as to the need of such an act, and the need for reform. However, with so much spin flying left and right it is understandable that the average American might be slightly confused about the facts. As promised in our last post, we are here to try and dig through the deluge of misinformation and try to enlighten you as to the truth of healthcare reform in modern
By now it should come as no surprise that the
Step forward President Obama.
It is not news that even as a Senator, Obama was keen to implement changes to a necrotic, decrepit, and rapidly deteriorating medical system. As we mentioned in our June 18, 2008 post however, he planned to accomplish a rejuvenation of the system primarily by forcing the extinction of paper as a medium to convey patient information and medical records. The paperless healthcare system is still a primary goal for the now president, but a wider range of initiatives are potentially on the books. The goals of the Obama administration reforms include, among other things:
? Reduce long-term growth of health care costs for businesses and government
? Protect families from bankruptcy or debt because of health care costs
? Guarantee choice of doctors and health plans
? Invest in prevention and wellness
? Improve patient safety and quality of care
? Assure affordable, quality health coverage for all Americans
? Maintain coverage when you change or lose your job
? End barriers to coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions
It would seem that these objectives are relatively straight forwards, full of common sense, and indeed necessary to revitalize the system and ensure that American citizens are no longer beholden to the insurance organizations "protecting their health". However, as always in the
Let's be quite clear on one thing, the reforms are not meant to establish a universal healthcare system. Yes, there has been debate on the subject, but the reality is that, due to the very makeup of the US political system any Bill or Legislation that aims to create an NHS style healthcare network would fail miserably (remember that both the Senate and Congress must pass a bill in order for it to become law). The Republicans would scream bloody murder at the merest hint of such reform, and the more fiscally conservative Democrats would be none too pleased either.
No, Obama's current objective is to create an equal playing field for all Americans to receive comprehensive healthcare coverage (whether received by a private health insurance company or through a government run program like Medicare or Medicaid), and ensure that should they loose their job, or suffer a major illness, the coverage will not cease. In addition to this, the President has placed a large emphasis on the ability of the American consumer to choose their healthcare plan. If the goal was to institute a universal healthcare system, it would be a case of "one plan fits all", by clearly stating that his aim is to give the consumer freedom of choice when it comes to their medical protection, the President has given us a great deal of insight to his driving force - let the market be free and active, but also competitive and fair. The idea here being that the insurance companies offering the best coverage conditions will thrive, while those that impose hefty exclusions, automatically large deductibles or excesses, and engage in the dubious practice of recision will fail.
However, as part of the usual everyday politicization that occurs in the
Town hall meetings across the
The objective of reforming the healthcare system in the
In addition to this, the American health insurance industry stands to learn a thing or two from current "best practice" as it exists in the international marketplace. Current international health insurance plans will automatically allow a policyholder to visit the hospital or doctor of their choice, anywhere in the world - which is quite a big step up from freedom of choice in your home town. Guaranteed renewals, self selected deductibles, very high coverage limits, and a range of other standard benefits make global health insurance a radically different product to the insurance options currently available in the USA, and at the end of the day President Obama's reforms really only emulate that which is standard in the international community.
Here at International Insurance News we believe in giving the consumer all the information that they need to make an informed decision. Any reforms which would see coverage improved and extended cannot help but make for a better product, at the end of the day it will encourage healthy competition and eliminate bad business practices. But it is the American consumer who will need to be vocal on the issue and see beyond politicized fabrication by special interest groups.
All this huffing and puffing and there hasn't even been a vote yet. It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks, and as always, we will keep you updated.