Georges Benjamin
Executive director of APHA

Georges Benjamin

Georges C. Benjamin, MD, has been the executive director of the American Public Health Association since 2002. Prior to that, he served as an emergency room doctor and the secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

What I Told My Kids

Here is what I told my children as they grew up and were no longer covered by my insurance policy: having insurance is about risk, security and access to health care. Without insurance, you are at extreme financial risk if something goes wrong with your health. You also have little access to health care services other than emergency care and cannot feel secure that your needs will be met if you need anything more than basic care. Health insurance provides these protections.

If every individual in our nation were insured we would see better outcomes because many more people would receive basic preventive services and increase the capacity for early identification, diagnosis and treatment. Our economy would benefit from the economic security provided to families when they are protected from unexpected costs due to medical or surgical problems.

Along with these benefits there are also societal reasons to support a mandate. They include sharing the costs over the broadest population and ensuring everyone is paying their fair share. A mandate brings everyone into the pool -- the healthy and the infirm, the rich and the poor -- and distributes the costs. It also requires insurers to seek innovative ways to lower costs rather than refusing to cover those who need it the most. To truly reform our health system, this is an important element of the process.

I made sure my kids were covered growing up because I believed in it and I have not changed that view now that they are adults. Health insurance is essential to health and economic prosperity and is a societal good. In conjunction with a public plan that ensures health insurance is affordable for all, I believe an individual mandate is essential to protect health in our nation.

By Georges Benjamin  |  July 8, 2009; 3:31 PM ET  | Category:  Health Care Reform Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The Argument for an Individual Mandate | Next: Patient Responsibility Is Important

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" A mandate brings everyone into the pool -- the healthy and the infirm, the rich and the poor -- and distributes the costs."

Unfortunately as long as we have 1500 different pools, this will not be true even with an individual mandate. Only under a single payer system like HR676, Medicare for All, would this laudable goal be achieved.

Posted by: lensch | July 8, 2009 9:25 PM
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