"Key Issues in Analyzing Major Health Insurance Proposals"

MedSave Admin | December 27, 2008

Perhaps the mot significant contribution of the Bush era government in the field of health care reform is the December 2008 report published by the congressional Budget Office titled "Key Issues in Analyzing Major Health Insurance Proposals". The entire report is available in PDF format at http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/99xx/doc9924/12-18-KeyIssues.pdf and an annotated copy is reproduced at MedSave.com at the link above.

The report will be so important in the ongoing discussion of health are reform that we would not be willing to take seriously the opinion of any commentator who does not show some understanding and incorporation of discussion of the key issues presented. Accordingly, from this point forward, all editorial review of posts on the Affordable Health Insurance Blog will include some consideration of the relationship of the specific post to the overall CBO Key Issues.

The report is surprisingly concise - at least in comparison to most other CBO publications. The entire report is less than 200 pages including all tables and additional explanatory material.

The entire report can be summarized in this single statement conained in the summary: "a substantial share of spending on health care contributes little if anything to the overall health of the nation but finding ways to reduce such spending without also affecting services that improve health will be difficult".

Our biggest criticism of the CBO report is that it begins with the assumption that expanding health insurance to a universal or "near-universal" (as used in the report) basis is a worthy goal or that there is a strong relationship between health insurance coverage and level of health care. In our opinion, both positions are debatable. Perhaps the assumptions are made because the authors beleive that health insurance reform (as opposed to health care reform) is a political certainty in the near future. In any event, we continue to believe that it makes sense to consider health insurance reform measures only in the context of a larger health care reform plan. Regulating health insurance is relatively easy from a political perspective but will ultimately be ineffective without measures to reform health care in the United States. Most importantly, it is important for all parties to realize that health care reform cannot be acheived through additional regulation of health insurance.

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