It’s all about cost in health care debate

Published on, by TODD SPANGLER, Sept. 18, 2009.

WASHINGTON — Picking winners and losers among the proposals for health care overhaul before Congress is like predicting who’ll win the Super Bowl before training camp starts: too many variables.

Still, you can make an educated guess.

Say your income is less than three times the federal poverty level – $66,150 for a family of three – you’re probably a winner: The federal government likely will help pay your monthly premium. Or say you’ve been denied coverage because of a congenital heart condition – denial of coverage because of preexisting conditions almost certainly will end. 

On the other hand, if you’re young, healthy and don’t want to pay for health care, you likely will have no choice. And people who have gold-plated policies likely will pay much more to keep their coverage.

Those are a few of the logical outcomes, say health care analysts, experts and economists.

But the big question remains: Can changes to cut waste in Medicare, reduce uncompensated hospital care and discourage unnecessary bloat in the system slow the skyrocketing cost of health care coverage in the United States, save Medicare and pay for reform – estimated between $850 billion and $1 trillion – without leaving taxpayers holding the bill?

‘The big losers are taxpayers’: …

… The question then becomes whether real savings can be achieved, while increasing access and coverage.

The government’s best tool? Medicare, the single largest payer in the U.S. health care market and the easiest way the government could dictate changes in how doctors, hospitals and insurers across the private health care system run their businesses.

If it can cut waste and double payments, reduce fraud and create a system where costs are reduced by breaking what’s perceived as overuse of a system that incentivizes tests and procedures over results.

A USA Today/Gallup poll – taken Sept. 11-13, with a margin of error plus or minus 4 percentage points – found 56% of respondents at least somewhat doubtful it will happen.

“In 20 years, we’ll get there,” Antos said. “But it’s a long 20 years.” (full long 3 pages text).


The Only Place Reform Could Die  – Tell the Senate: reform won’t wait for crazy people.

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