Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Obama Health Plan


Health Reform
By ATUL GAWANDE

As a surgeon, I’ve worked with the veterans’ health system, Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies. I’ve seen health care in Canada, Britain, Switzerland and the Netherlands. And I was in the Clinton administration when our plan for universal coverage failed. So, with a new health reform debate under way, what I want to tell you in my last guest column is this:

First, there is not a place in this world that is not struggling to control health costs while providing high-quality, easily accessible care. No one — no one — has a great solution.

But second, whether as a doctor or as a citizen, I would take almost any system — from Medicare-for-all to a private insurance voucher system — over the one we now have. Job-based insurance is bleeding away the viability of American businesses — even doctors complain about the cost of insuring employees. And it has left large numbers of patients without adequate coverage when they need it. In the last two years, for example, 51 percent of Americans surveyed did not fill a prescription or visit a doctor for a known medical issue because of cost.

My worry is less about what happens if we change than what happens if we don’t.

This week, Barack Obama released his health reform plan. . . . It is not single-payer. . .

The ultimate measure of leadership, however, is not the plan. It is the capacity to take that plan and persuade people to find common ground in it. The politician who can is the one we want.

Read more. .

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