Monday, February 15, 2010

If We Don't Know Where We're Going, How Can We Get There, Or What Is Affordable Health Care?

It only took Uwe Reinhardt, a Princeton economics professor, frequent NY Times health care contributor and Obama health reform supporter, a year into Obama's health care reform to understand that to get anything successfully accomplished the parties involved need to understand the goals and objectives. Read the following excerpt from Reinhardt's post (and also his complete post) on The New York Times Economix blog, "What Is ‘Affordable’ Health Care?"
Health insurance is just a means by which needed health care can be made “affordable” to Americans when they fall ill. Therefore the proper target of health policy should be the family’s total outlay on health care, including out-of-pocket spending. That total outlay on “needed health care” should be made “affordable.”

Which requires us to define concretely, for practical purposes, what we mean by “health care” and “affordable,” pedantic as that may sound. Politicians should be forced to be utterly clear about it.

Usually we think of “health care” loosely as the services performed or products prescribed by health care professionals, notably physicians. But those services and products range all the way from pure consumption goods widely regarded as the recipient’s financial responsibility (e.g., purely cosmetic surgery or Botox injections) to acutely needed care widely viewed as a social good that should be available to everyone, regardless of ability to pay for it (e.g., health care after a serious accident or heart attack).

In between lies an entire spectrum of health care products and services which some people regard as “medically necessary” but others not. For example, is in vitro fertilization a “needed” health care service? Is Viagra a “needed” health care product?
Of course, I see it as a failure of the Obama administration to take a leadership role in setting the health care reform objectives and specifics. See my previous post, "Obama Does Not Know How To Be A CEO."

1 comment :

  1. There is no proper explanation for what is affordable. Different people do have different needs and so is their limit of spending money. A wide range of offers are available to provide protection according to the need and budget. So it depends on our preference to choose the best option.