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An Opinion About Opinion: A Layman's Take on the Politics of Health Insurance

Posted by Joe Antle on September 12, 2017 8:55 AM EDT
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This morning I eagerly prepared to read in my favorite local newspaper The Virginian-Pilot's Opinion section. What made me most excited about the prospect of finding new wisdom in the editorial offering were two things:  the headline for the piece-"5 Bipartisan Steps to Fix Health Care"...AND...

...the fact that its headline was focused on "health care".  The fact that the editorial piece, clearly a nationally-distributed content item was written by two bi-partisan experts Dr. Bill Frist and Andy Slavitt added to my interest.

As with anything these days, and what the three of us write here so often, the dialog wasn't about health care or health improvement, it was about the politics of health insurance.  I read the piece twice, hoping to grab something of truly sustainable value that might get at the root cause of our health care crisis, which in our collective opinions is not health insurance, but rather poor health, an aging population, ill-informed health care consumers and the cost and quality of health care.

The piece had the right headline.  It just did not deliver on the premise.

So, we continue to look for great wisdom in the general press-newspapers, TV, Internet sites and specialty magazines.  

But for those of you who want to know the key five bipartisan steps to fix "health insurance", here is what the authors generally had to say:

1. Congress should act to persuade health insurance carriers to cut health insurance premiums by 20%

2. Congress should establish a targeted fund to bring down health insurance premiums

3. The feral government should cut its review time for approving state innovation applications in half, to a 90-day maximum

4. Congress should help middle-income consumers manage the size of their deductibles

5. The federal government should develop alternatives that allow state beginning in 2020 to potentially replace the ACA's mandate that most individuals buy coverage or face a penalty.

These may (or may not) be good "bipartisan" steps for fixing health insurance.  But until the enormous focus and dollars are redirected to the core problems of creating a healthier population, improving consumers' ability to make wise decisions on the health care products and services that they buy and reduce the cost and improve the quality of health care itself, then we are doomed to continue an upward spiral where all we do is shift dollars from one large bucket to another-with consumers stuck in the middle.

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