June 23, 2009
Study weighs healthcare reform options
A comprehensive approach could slow healthcare cost increases in the United Sates even while achieving near-universal coverage, an analysis indicates.
However, the findings of The Commonwealth Fund study released Wednesday reveal the national savings that could be realized from health insurance, provider payment and care delivery system reforms would vary significantly depending on whether or not a public insurance plan option is included and how such a plan is structured.
The private foundation's analysis examined three scenarios: a public plan option with healthcare providers paid midway between current Medicare and private plan rates; a public plan option with payments more closely to Medicare rates; and no public plan, relying exclusively on private plans.
Commonwealth's study found cumulative health system savings between 2010 and 2020, compared with projected trends for that period, would range from $3.0 trillion under a public plan paying providers at Medicare rates in competition with private plans, to $2.0 trillion for a public plan paying providers at rates between Medicare and private plan rates, to $1.2 trillion in the private plan-only scenario.
All three approaches would make affordable coverage available to everyone, the 91-year-old healthcare oriented organization said.
Key to each version would be significant reforms to the way the nation pays for care, rewarding value and efficiency over volume, Commonwealth said in a news release.
We are in the midst of an economic crisis that will grow worse if we continue on our current path, said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis, a co-author of the report.
The nation will be spending one out of every five dollars on health care by 2020, with millions more uninsured -- undermining the health and financial security of families, businesses, and the government. This analysis shows we have a choice of paths that could lead to access for everyone, lower costs, and improved quality of care.