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Sep
28
2006

Insurance preimiums grow faster than wages and inflation

That's not really news to anyone who is paying for health insurance. It confirms what everyone who works for a living already knows. The burning question is: Given how messed up the system is, and how upset people are about access and skyrocketing costs, where is the outcry from the masses? Why are people not insisting on legislative action? There must be a reason why a grassroots demand for change does not seem to exist. Care to speculate?

For fodder, check out a recent article in the Oregonian..."Politicians offer small repairs, not big reform for Oregon's ailing health care system."

And for more fodder, here is the report on rising health insurance premiums. The survey found that premiums have increased 87 percent over the past six years. Family health coverage now costs an average $11,480 annually, with workers paying an average of $2,973 toward those premiums, about $1,354 more than in 2000.

Continue reading They keep growing and growing

Aug
14
2006

Guest column
Andrew Gioia

Andrew Gioia is currently a senior at Cornell University majoring in government and political science.

Though there’s been great debate lately over various issues in health care, few have spoken at any length on a moral or ethical basis for reform. Health care decisions are inherently personal, yet within the current health care system individuals and families have little genuine choice when it comes to the terms and benefits of their health plan.

Furthermore, advances in biomedical research promise great improvements in care, yet at the same time many Americans would likely object to funding procedures or treatments through their health insurance premiums that they find morally offensive. Such decisions, however, are almost always made by employers, insurance executives, or government officials, leaving no room for Americans to control their own health care dollars and participate in plans that respect their values.

Recently, the Heritage Foundation published a paper outlining the merits of what they call a values-driven health plan. In it, the authors answer a number of important questions and call attention to several freedoms current health plans prohibit, all of which respect individual moral beliefs and give greater control over personal health plans. The paper identifies the legislative and policy changes that would be necessary for consumer- and values-driven health plans to exist and flourish.

Continue reading Values-driven health care: has the time come?

May
30
2006

Guest column
Sara R. Collins, senior program officer, The Commonwealth Fund

Dr. Collins and colleagues issued a report this week: "Rite of Passage? Why Young Adults Become Uninsured and How New Policies Can Help.” She has contributed an excerpt here for discussion.

Young adults between the ages of 19 and 29 represent one of the largest and fastest-growing segments of the population without health insurance in the United States. Often dropped from their parents’ policies or public insurance programs at age 19 or on graduation day, they are left to find insurance on their own as they make the transition from high school to work or college.

Yet, jobs available to young adults are usually low wage or temporary - the type that generally do not come with health benefits. Young adults who are able to go to college full-time may have some protection through their parents’ policies, but upon graduation usually lose access to family coverage.

The number of uninsured young adults ages 19 to 29 climbed to 13.7 million in 2004, an increase of 2.5 million since 2000. Young adults were the fastest-growing age group among the uninsured over this period, accounting for 40 percent of the increase in the uninsured under age 65. Even though they  comprise just 17 percent of the under-65 population, young adults account for 30 percent of the non-elderly uninsured.

Continue reading Rite of Passage?

Apr
20
2006

Kohler_1 Welcome to the health care reform blog. I look forward to sharing ideas and “blogging” with you about health care reform.

I have been privileged to serve as OHSU’s president since 1988 and, during this time, I’ve witnessed huge leaps in medicine. However, extraordinary medical breakthroughs and technology advances lose some of their luster when so many people can’t afford them. As you know, health care for many people is a serious economic challenge. In Oregon alone, over 600,000 people are uninsured. Hundreds of thousands of others are underinsured.

This is an unacceptable situation. I think we can all agree that everyone deserves access to basic health care. The question is: how do we as a society come together to create a health care system to achieve this? The answer to this question is not clear and the problems our current health care system faces are huge. But we must begin the process of change despite how daunting the task.

Continue reading The Computer Will See You Now

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