Jane Sarasohn-Kahn
Health Economist

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn is a health economist and management consultant. She writes the blog Health Populi.

It takes a village to solve the health-care crisis

Regina Holliday and 4,999 other health citizens who marched on Washington, D.C., this week in the name of Health Care For All remind us that it takes a village to come up with a solution to health reform in the U.S.

Financing health care in the U.S. is a broken system that's a mosaic of private and public payers. On the private side, there are employers who channel employees to a health plan in a local market; employers who self-insure; and individuals who may or may not opt to pay
out-of-pocket for health insurance. On the public side, there are the taxpayers who fund Medicare, Medicaid, care for the armed forces, care for public sector employees, the end-stage renal disease program for kidney dialysis, among others covered by public funding.

It's tempting to blame insurance companies and health plans for the system's woes. Clearly, Anthem and others raising health premium rates in historically high double-digits will be publicly scorned. But they're one piece of a larger puzzle.

The Village needs a public option to drive costs down in local markets and provide competition. A public option would help focus insurance companies' creative minds into developing a lower-cost, basic health plan that uninsured Americans could access. This is how we migrate to universal coverage for all Americans.

A note about Regina Holliday: when her husband, Fred, was in the hospital with renal cell carcinoma last year, she requested his medical records from the hospital. The medical records department told her that would cost her "73 cents and a 21-day wait" for the records to be copied. The new-and-improved U.S. health system must be patient-focused: costs are one important aspect. Health citizens' rights to "our" data is another crucial piece. There's no health engagement without our personal health information. And greater health engagement leads to better health outcomes and, ultimately, lower costs in dollars and human lives.

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn  |  March 10, 2010; 10:21 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Economics 101: It starts with the buyer | Next: Yeah, insurers are scapegoated. But tell me again why we have this industry?

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