Healthcare fix should involve common sense approach, not complexity

March 1, 2011

I am mystified by the continuing debate surrounding the nebulous topic of healthcare reform and wish that the discussions were more understandable to me, so that I could make sense as to exactly what was being "reformed."

Key Points

I am mystified by the continuing debate surrounding the nebulous topic of healthcare reform and wish that the discussions were more understandable to me, so that I could make sense as to exactly what was being "reformed."

I remain puzzled, however, since very few in the power structure seem to know what's in the 2,700-page "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," much less what needs to be changed. There must be elements of the existing act that are good and worth retaining (after all, there have to be some good ideas in it, right?), but I suspect that many of our elected officials who voted to pass this bill haven't even read it, and yet now some are advocating changing or eliminating it.

Pause for thought

This whole topic has given me pause for thought. After all, I am a reasonable, intelligent person who not only provides but also consumes medical care, and I should know at least a little something of what I'd like to see changed about our current healthcare system.

While I admit freely that I do not know everything about what changes are needed to improve our healthcare system - or perhaps just as importantly how to pay for them - the following are some simple ideas that I've come up with that I think might help improve our current system.

Improve access to healthcare. I believe that everyone should have access to affordable healthcare, but that no one should be forced to buy healthcare insurance just because the government says so. Making health insurance affordable would decrease the number of emergency department visits for non-emergencies and increase the likelihood that parents will take their children to see a physician earlier in their child's illness, when they can be treated more easily and less expensively.

The big issue here is how to make it affordable for everyone, since we were told during the run-up to the election that 40 million Americans are uninsured, presumably because they can't afford health insurance. I don't have the answer as to how to pay for this, but it should be an attainable goal, and somebody in our government should have the answer how to pay for it.

Eliminate restrictions based on pre-existing conditions. If someone changes or loses their job and the associated insurance coverage they had under the old job, I don't believe they should be disqualified from obtaining new insurance coverage under the new company's policy because of a pre-existing medical condition. Wouldn't it be a better policy to keep a patient with a pre-existing condition or disease under treatment at relatively low cost than to let them develop potentially more severe problems resulting from the lack of health insurance? This, in turn, might result in expensive hospitalization or even permanent disability that might keep them from working.