Tag Archives: Samuel Metz

Health Care Reform without Tears, Part 3: Private health insurance

by Samuel Metz, Contributing Writer

Part two of this series left readers with the unhappy prospect of an Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) failing to achieve universal access, lower costs or better health. What about our private health insurance industry? Many individuals and organizations advocate unfettered competition among insurance companies on a nationwide basis, releasing them from the jungle of regulation created by 50 individual states. Free market competition brought down the costs of flat-screen televisions. Can’t it do the same for health care?

There is some foundation for this position. After all, most central Europeans finance health care with private insurance companies and their health is better than ours while spending half of what we do.

The flaw in this proposition is in vocabulary. European “Private health insurance” resembles American “Private health insurance” the way European football does to American football. Different games, different goals, different rules. Continue reading

Health care reform, part II: Will Obamacare save America from itself?

By Samuel Metz, Contributing Columnist

Just when despair engulfed our dysfunctional health care system, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (also known, inappropriately as we will see, as “ObamaCare”). Is the Affordable Care Act a knight in shining armor, a red herring or the end of civilization as we know it?
Let’s look closer.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a response to powerful health-care forces pulling in many directions — from families bankrupted by medical bills, businesses crippled by employer-sponsored insurance, hospitals and physicians paid less for Medicaid and Medicare patients than the cost to provide the care, insurance companies protecting their industry, and voters demanding that something — anything — be done to solve an apparently unsolvable crisis.

Ultimately, Congress created a 400,000-word compromise of baffling complexity. Before we review whether this effort was worth the trouble, let’s look at the major (but not the only) provisions. Continue reading

Health care reform without tears: What’s the least I need to know?

ImageBy Samuel Metz, Contributing Columnist

Public discussions of health care reform send most people ducking under chairs and rushing for exits. Who can blame them? Our health care system is hideously complex. A flurry of opinions swirl from all parts of the political spectrum; some seem reasonable, others preposterous, and many simply make our heads ache.

This article offers a guide to the perplexed — the simplest a introduction to health care reform you will encounter. When finished, your new understanding may give you the confidence to discuss reform intelligently without fear of embarrassment.

In this first part, we start with basics. Why do we need reform? We need it because Americans spend twice as much as people in other countries, and yet our public health outcomes rank nearly last among industrialized nations, and our families’ health and finances are being devastated. Continue reading