There’s much debate around the healthcare system reform proposed by President Barack Obama. And while there are many people who protest against it, and those who support it, it is important to know what it is all about in the first place. Here is a short overview of the reform, which is comprised of three essential parts:
1. Assure all American citizens with access to comprehensive and affordable health coverage
The main features of this part are:
- New Public National Health Plan, which will be very close to the current health coverage provided to federal employees. The main difference is that the new plans will be available to all US citizens for a reasonable price no matter of their financial situation. Deductibles and co-payments will be reduced to minimum, while low-income persons will have the possibility to use additional subsidies.
- National Health Insurance Exchange, which will allow US citizens to look for private health plans. It will set regulations on private insurance providers in order to make sure that private plans are not too different form public ones.
- New business mandate requiring national enterprises to pay for the Public National Health Plan.
- Individual mandate aimed specifically at children.
- More support provided to existing programs like Medicaid and SCHIP.
2. Improve the quality of healthcare services and lower their costs
This initiative presumes federal financial assistance for improving the quality of the services and lowering the costs, with additional assistance to enterprises that cover high-risk employees.
To President’s belief the following actions may also contribute to lowering cost and improving services:
- Special disease management programs for improving chronic care.
- Improving transparency in what concerns quality and costs of healthcare offered by providers.
- Lowering the rates of medical errors.
- Introducing financial incentives to stimulate substantial improvements.
- Providing support for researching new and alternative healthcare technologies.
- Eliminating ethnic disparities in access and quality of healthcare services.
- Popularizing health IT.
- Stronger regulation of insurance and drug markets in order to lower medication costs and allow cheap health insurance.
- Preventing Medicare private plan participants from overpaying.
3. Wellness and healthy lifestyle promotion
This initiative is to be supported through the following actions:
- Special wellness programs at working places.
- Eliminating child obesity with school activities.
- Better education for present and future healthcare workers.
- Promotion of healthy lifestyle in communities.
Saving possibilities with the new initiatives
President Obama estimates that in average a typical American family will be able to save about $2,500 on an early basis after the plan will be implemented. These are the possible sources for such savings:
- Health IT introduction and implementation.
- Improved quality of services.
- Limitations on health insurance provider profits.
- Federal funding of catastrophic coverage that will lead to cheap health insurance.
- Universal coverage availability.
As you can see the Plan requires significant federal funding and that is one of the major points of those who are against it. Other arguments include direct implication to health insurance market, which of course is not quite welcome by the insurance companies. But is the idea of cheap health insurance for everyone that bad?