Paying For Health Care In America

I wanted to share a project that I have been working on with my friends at the Kettering Foundation and the National Issues Forums. I’m quite excited about it.

It’s a new issue book called Paying For Health Care in America: How Can We Make It More Affordable? I’ve finished the “issue brief” and am now working on a larger “issue book.” The 12-page brief is available for free download here. The issue book (which will be slightly larger and have more research and quotes and such) will be sold for a nominal fee.

Like all National Issues Forums issue guides, this one looks at a difficult public problem from three different perspectives, or “approaches.” The guide is meant to be the core of a small-group discussion where participants wrestle with the choices and trade-offs embedded in the issue, and come to their own view of how we ought to proceed as a nation. The book does not advocate for any one choice.

Here’s a recap of this particular guide:

Forty-seven million Americans lack health insurance while costs continue to spiral out of control for those who do have coverage. The nation spends more than any other country on health care, but many are still dissatisfied with what we have to show for it. Now it is time to face the difficult choices needed to make the U.S. health-care system function properly.

Approach #1: Focus on Personal Choice and Responsibility

There is neither enough individual choice nor enough personal responsibility when it comes to health-care coverage. The real costs are hidden because it always looks like someone else is paying. We need to place individuals more in charge of their health-spending decisions; this will create incentives to reduce spending and improve service.

Approach #2: Provide Coverage as a Right for all Americans

It is an outrage that, in the wealthiest nation on the planet, more than 15 percent of us lack health insurance. We are all in this together, as a society. We rely on government to protect us from fire and crime and to provide education; it should ensure our health too. We need to provide health-care coverage as a right to all Americans, not just those who can afford it.

Approach #3: Build on What is Working

The U.S. health-care system is facing real problems right now– and there are real solutions available right now. Holding out for a “perfect” answer is not reasonable. We can institute a modest set of reforms right away, which will bring real strides in increasing health insurance coverage and reducing costs.

Watch for an announcement of the full issue book, which should be available later in the spring.

Published by

Brad Rourke

Executive editor of issue guides and program officer at the Kettering Foundation.

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