[ Tuesday, July 17, 2007 ]
Off-Topic, But Interesting:
If you've been following any of the healthcare reform debate, you know that some of the proposals (including the Wyden one I keep getting emailed on) focus on improving access to health insurance. The Wall Street Journal just editorialized today (subscription only
, sorry) about tax deductibility for health insurance premiums. The Wyden bill actually requires all individuals to buy health insurance (not sure how that will work for those who affirmatively choose
not to be insured). In my opinion, a large contingent of those without insurance "can't afford" it because they choose to spend their money elsewhere. In the vernacular of the old Las Vegas joke, "they got gamblin' money." New cars, family vacations, dining out, cable TV, air conditioning, whatever, there are good and important things for folks to spend money on, and they elect to spend it on those positively enjoyable things and not on something as mundane and (in most cases) unneeded as health insurance.
According to a Rand survey
, I may be right. Reducing health insurance premiums by as much as 50% will only result in a 3% drop in the number of uninsured in America. So, it's not price, is it? This would seem to lend credence to the importance of the Wyden bill's requirement that Americans buy health insurance -- even at a deep discount, the uninsured won't voluntarily choose to be insured.
(Note: Even though I obviously practice in the healthcare field, and it's near and dear to my heart, I'm suspicious about all the Jeremiads I hear that there's a healthcare "crisis" or that the American public is clamoring for a "cure" to said crisis. Generally, the fact that something ranks really high with the American public as a big electoral issue doesn't mean that it's an important issue, other than in a relative sense. In the early '90s , the American public ranked healthcare as a very important issue, a crisis to be solved. Obviously, nothing much was done, and we've managed to get through about 15 years since then running on the same crisis. When an issue rises to the top tier of "concerns" of the American public, it could mean that it's a big concern, or it could mean that there aren't really too many other concerns, so that slight concerns become top-tier concerns. Back in the early '90s, the economy was chugging along, the Cold War was over, there wasn't too much going on in foreign affairs (although you could say that was an iceberg we ran into), so American attention turned to lesser matters, like healthcare. We're in the same situation now: there's one big problem, Islamofascism, that doesn't have any easy answers. Some factions will fight over how to deal with that, but those that don't want to waste their political capital on that fight will turn to something else that they can put their stamp on. Healthcare is one of those lower priorities that isn't a huge deal, but is top tier simply because there's nothing much else. At least that's my take.)
Jeff [10:20 AM]
Blogger: HIPAA Blog - Edit your Template