Monday, March 22, 2010

We Still Need Health Care Reform

An historic health care bill is close to being passed by both houses of Congress. If the Senate approves it later this week, President Obama is expected to sign it into law just over a week from today.

Some believe this is a tremendous step forward for Americans. Others believe it is a disaster. I believe it misses the point.

Here's why. This legislation, commonly referred to as "health care reform," does nothing to reform health care. It only reforms health insurance.

And who needs health insurance? When you think about it, no one does. Having insurance doesn't keep you healthy or cure you when you're ill. If you have a headache, do you take out your insurance policy and rub it on your head to feel better? Of course not, it's just a stack of paper.

We don't need health insurance. What everyone needs is health CARE. Insurance is merely a scheme devised to pay for the care. 

To me, it seems that health care reform should address the quality of the care, not the payment system. Real health care reform would offer incentives for better health outcomes. Better outcomes would mean lower costs. But I don't see anything like that in this legislation.

As it is, Americans have mediocre health care and we spend more than any other country on earth for what we get. Why is that? Why is it that health care consumers in the US fail to demand a better product? In every other aspect of our lives we seem to think it is OK to expect more and pay less. It is high time that attitude applied to health care as well. When that happens, and only then, will meaningful health care reform become a reality.