Tuesday, September 20, 2011

U. S. Health Care System Reforming Itself – and Comparing Coverage for Children with Other Countries

No Surprise, the U. S. Leads in ^ of Coverage for Children

The cost problem with health care in the United States, which no one wants to address is that the incentives in the system are to increase costs, not decrease costs.  A physician gets paid only when he or she treats someone, the more they treat the more they make.  A hospital gets paid only when it admits or administers care to someone.  No patient, no payment.

Slowly the U. S. health care system is recognizing this, and in Boston a huge step was taken to change the system.

Massachusetts hospital operator Steward Health Care System LLC will launch a new insurance plan that requires consumers to use it for nearly all routine health-care needs, a sign of health-care providers' growing interest in such products.

Steward, owned by Cerberus Capital Management LP, plans to work with the nonprofit Tufts Health Plan to create Steward Community Choice, which will be aimed at small businesses and is expected to go into effect Jan 1, assuming regulatory approval. The partners are betting that the plan's price—which they say will be as much as 15% to 30% below comparable products—will be appealing enough to overcome potential consumer concerns about the limited choice of medical providers.

See once the providers are the ones receiving the fixed insurance premiums, their incentive is to reduce costs, improve efficiencies and deliver cost effective medical care.  Isn’t that what the system needs? 

On another front, Aaron Carroll of the outstanding health care economic Forum called The Incidental Economist writes about health care insurance coverage for children.

I’m talking about children, because of course, children don’t get to make a “decision” to forego health insurance. Their being uninsured is not “freedom“. And here in the US, it’s worth remembering that we do a terrible job of protecting our children with respect to health insurance

He then presents this graph which illustrates his point.


If you think thee is something wrong, that the bars were left off the other countries by mistake, you’re mistaken.  In these other countries the number of children not covered by health insurance is zero percent. 

And here is a chart of the trend for the last decade by country.  Again hard to see the line for the other countries, cause its hard to see a line that coincides with the X axis.

 Not exactly the argument for American Exceptionalism that Mitt Romney want to make, is it?

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