Health care reform vital to practically everyone


POSTED: Monday, September 07, 2009

When it comes to reform of our health care system the public is being presented with truly frightening visions of death panels, bankrupt insurance companies, and massive government bureaucracies that ration the care that people receive. In truth none of those are products of genuine reform, nor do they accurately describe the improvements that Americans would enjoy under proposals currently being considered by Congress. What then does the future state of our health care system look like for you?

If you're one of the nearly 37 million Americans over age 65, your health care will be protected and made more secure under reform. By eliminating fraud, abuse and overpayments in the current system, health care reform will lower premiums and invest in workforce programs so that you'll have access to the doctors you want to see.

Your drug costs will also be lower, ensuring that you won't have to choose between purchasing your medication or other necessities. And, most importantly, reform will improve Medicare's long-term solvency so that you'll enjoy coverage under this popular federal program for many years to come.

If you're an employee who isn't offered coverage by your company, or can't afford your share of the monthly premium to participate, reform will give you access to quality, affordable health insurance choices. The same goes for those who've lost their job and no longer have coverage. One plan choice available to you may be a public option based on the same program that has protected America's seniors for more than 40 years. Or, through a health insurance exchange, you might choose a locally-based health plan that better meets your needs. In either case, you'll have peace of mind knowing that your health is protected.

If you're one of the millions who've been diagnosed with a chronic disease like diabetes, hypertension or asthma, or who have a pre-existing medical condition like cancer, health care reform will guarantee that insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against you by denying coverage or charging you more simply because you're already sick. Comprehensive health care reform will end the discrimination you've faced, giving you access to the care you need to get well.

If you're a business owner who's seen your profits dissolved by an unremitting stream of premium increases over the past 20 years, health care reform will create savings by improving quality, providing timely access to care that lessens the need for more expensive interventions later, and reducing duplication and waste.

Those savings will be reinvested in the system, increasing access and allowing you to offer greater choice to your employees. Lower costs will also mean more capital to expand your business, hire more workers, and invest in the future. Health care reform will restore the competitiveness of your company and help you retain healthier, happier, and more productive employees.

Finally, if you're a medical provider, health care reform will allow you to focus on the most important aspect of all: caring for patients. By emphasizing primary, preventive care and compensating you appropriately, reform will spur improvement in the health outcomes of your patients.

It will promote tools like electronic medical records and health information exchanges, which will drive evidence-based best practices and improve the quality of care for everyone. Most importantly, health care reform will reduce administrative barriers to care imposed by health insurers—and strengthen the most important relationship of all, the one you have with your patient.

When thinking about the debate over reform, ask yourself: Isn't this the kind of health care system you'd like to see for yourself and your family? If so, stand with us and support comprehensive health care reform.

Beth Giesting is chief executive officer of the Hawaii Primary Care Association.