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Health Matters Essay

2775 words - 12 pages

Health Matters

In 1991, fewer than one percent of Americans felt that health care was an important issue. Just two years later, President Clinton urged Congress to help him fix a health care system that "is badly broken" (Collins 78). Is the health care system badly broken? The health care reform debate has captured the attention of all Americans. What brought health care reform into the public spotlight? Although our medical care in this country is of the highest quality, our access to that care is waning due to higher and higher costs. Our health care system needs fundamental reform. Currently, there are dozens of reform packages in Congress, yet three packages offer significant ...view middle of the document...

Mark lost his job, and the Callendars lost their insurance. When they tried to apply for coverage through Marcia's job, they were turned down because of Matthew's pre-existing condition. Matthew finally qualified for coverage through disability, but Mark had to take a lower-paying job to be eligible for coverage (Health Security 6). Hence, increasing portability of policies is fundamental to reform. No longer should an individual lose health insurance coverage with the loss of employment. Secondly, insurance providers must stop cherry-picking individuals. People should not be denied health care coverage because they have been sick. Denial of insurance coverage only forces these patients to use expensive emergency room services rather than obtaining regular treatment. The costs are just passed on to the insured patients in the form of higher prices (U.S. Health 18). Insuring the sick may cause the healthy person's premiums to go up, but everyone will benefit from the assurance that medical coverage will always be available.

The publication of performance data by hospitals and doctors must be included in the final reform package. Performance data provides Americans with valuable information regarding the capability of these facilities and physicians to perform certain procedures. Already, patients are "shopping" for health care. Consumer preferences have remarkably influenced obstetrics care. Many hospitals now provide "homey" birthing rooms, and a small percentage offer birthing tubs. Consumerism is emerging as a powerful force in health care. Therefore, publishing performance data would allow patients to be more educated consumers.

Standardized benefits are a necessary component of health care reform. A standard package of basic health benefits must be offered. If packages are not standardized, they become more difficult to compare. The three reform package authors agree that a standard benefits offering is necessary. However, they do not agree on the number and kind of benefits to be offered. The administration's benefits package, for example, is too generous. While none of the plans suggest a substantial lowering of benefits from what we now enjoy, "bean counters at the Treasury see what they termed politically-risky over promising by the administration" (Thomas, Clift, and Hager 28). Their package provides non-Medicare enrollees with hospital service, health-professional services, primary and preventative care, prescription drugs, and limited mental and substance abuse care. It also includes durable medical equipment, eyeglasses, and hospice care for the terminally ill. It contains a new Medicaid home and community-based program, raises the Medicaid asset limit from $200 to $12,000 and provides for a personal needs allowance of $70 monthly instead of the current $30. It also includes eye and dental coverage for children (Fry). The enormity of benefits seems to be an attempt to please everyone. This much coverage is too expensive and...

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