Perhaps not as likely to get people worked-up as talk about gun control, but an equally relevant and current discussion is health care reform. In particular the health reforms that were proposed by the President and often referred to as “Obamacare,” which more accurately is called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). I personally believe this is an important issue that people should be informed about. So, let’s discuss.
It was reported by the Institute of Medicine late last year that our country wastes $750 billion health care dollars annually. This is in large part due to un-needed care, fraud, and paperwork among other wastes and apparently exceeds the Pentagon’s annual budget. Whoa! After hearing that number anyone who says we don’t need health care reform should probably rethink that opinion.
The U.S. spends more than any other country on healthcare, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and yet we are a ways away from being on top with regards to our health outcomes; despite the fact that we spend more than anyone and have the latest medical technologies and procedures. (If you’re interested in learning more about the U.S. health care system in comparison to other countries, check out the OECD Health at a Glance 2011 report.
In the article Report: US Health care systems waste $750B a year some excellent analogies about the current health care system and how inefficient it is are pointed out. I quote:
“If banking worked like health care, ATM transactions would take days, the report said. If home building were like health care, carpenters, electricians and plumbers would work from different blueprints and hardly talk to each other. If shopping were like health care, prices would not be posted and could vary widely within the same store, depending on who was paying. If airline travel were like health care, individual pilots would be free to design their own preflight safety checks — or not perform one at all.”
The $750 billion wasted health care dollars that already takes place a year is apparently more than ten years of Medicare cuts that were proposed by Obama in the PPACA. When talking about health care reform one word that grabs people’s attention is “rationing”. I’m not entirely sure what goes through some people’s heads when they hear “health care” and “rationing” in the same sentence, but those two words usually get people all worked-up. However, rationing is one of the important ethical considerations when it comes to discussing health care reform.
Consider, for a minute what the proper definition of rationing here is. Currently a lot of the waste in health care is from un-needed procedures etc. Some of which are actually harmful to patients. Cutting this type of health care waste is what should be considered as rationing, not limiting access or denying necessary and beneficial health care to those who really need it. That is NEVER what health care experts mean when rationing comes up in discussing health care reform. So don’t get your knickers in a twist people. In fact, I would argue that our current system already does ration in a far more dangerous way. By making healthcare so expensive that many people can’t even buy health insurance or pay for health care they do need. Tell me how that is not a type of rationing.
In their report, the Institute of Medicine recommended that payments for medical services should be based on quality care, not “reimbursement for every procedure.” We’ll see how quick and if such measures are implemented. Health care reform is vital for our country, especially when one considers the issues facing Medicare. At least there are clear measures that can be taken to improve costs and delivery of care. That is, if the usual politics involved don’t get in the way.