Health Care Reform

On January 18, 2007 the Healthy Americans Act was introduced.
(see http://www.shrm.org/government/insider_published/CMS_020269.asp#P41_9110) This act would provide universal, private health insurance for all Americans. The bill would eliminate the current employer-based system and put individuals in charge of their own medical/health care. Another benefit in this act is that all would be accepted regardless of their medical wellness and regardless of prior existing conditions. There would be subsidies for low income families and tax deductions. However, it is also mandating that ALL Americans obtain coverage (and we all know how we feel about being told what to do by big brother.) The economic feasibility of only offering two medical programs to cover the entire United States and the logistics are not spelled out in this Act. While I am not sure that I agree with all facets of this particular Act, I do know that change is needed. Recent article in business journals and newspapers indicate the growing trend for employees to enter the work force not for an additional paycheck but for insurance coverage and other employees not being able to advance in their fields because they can't switch insurance companies (based on what the new employer would offer) because of pre-existing conditions is ludicrous. While this particular bill may not be the 'best' answer, I am relieved that it will at least generate more discussion in congress on the matter.


Jacob said...

I totally agree with you. Something has to be done aobut our health care system. I agree with you that this may not be the best solution, but it is a step in the right direction and will probably generate more discussion about the topic. Health care is ridiculously expensive. I know many people who have taken on a second job just to get the health care benefits. I wonder if this act will cause employers to have to come up with additional benefits beyond healthcare to generate the most skilled employees, now that health care benefits will be mandatory.

isabelle said...

I also agree that a reformation needs to take place in the healthcare system. I am currently looking into getting health insurance for my wife and it will be difficult because she has pre-existing conditions. It would be nice not to have to worry about that. Health is what it is all really about right? Sometimes I wish we could go back to the days of Little House on the Prarie. It was so simple back then and the doctor would immediately attend to the patients needs and they didn't have to pay enormous amounts of money. They were reasonable. They were treated as individuals back then. A problem with the act would be to inforce this upon the american people. Just as you said...they don't like being told what to do. I also wonder, is this a way that illegal immigrants can get health insurance? I am sure they would have to work the system, but it could probably help. If this benefits immigrants as well I am all for it. Maybe then it will decrease the amount each year the US spends on trying to pay for all their medical expenses as well.

Dr. Tufte said...

-1 on Jada for poor capitalization.

I'm not picking on Jacob, but I'll start with his quote "health care is ridiculously expensive" for 4 reasons:

1) It works.
2) The elasticity of health care shows that it is a luxury good. Luxury goods get more expensive when the economy is doing well.
3) Tort decisions and unrealistic malpractice and liability insurance. Forensic economics shows that most people value their own life at around $3 million. That's a ballpark on how high decisions should be.
4) A third party payer system, in which buyers are faced with low prices (making them buy more), and sellers told they will be reimbursed at whatever level covers their opportunity costs.

Two of those are good things and two are not. How does this bill address those?

Isabelle: the problem with the "Little House On the Prairie" situation is # 1.

Jada said...

I agree with Tufte that health care is a luxury good however, I do not feel that a necessity of life should be considered a luxury good. Food is not considered a luxury. There was a recent article on tv the other day that indicated that people were now selling body parts online. A quick google search for organ donor brought up pages of opportunities for someone to receive payment for donating organs.