Monday, September 7, 2009

What's in a Name?

Labor Day and summer is over. This means the real fights over health care reform begin in earnest. The Glenn Beck-sponsored nonsense of the last few weeks was merely cable TV filler during the slow summer weeks. Now things get serious.

So in anticipation of that, let me offer a small suggestion. Let's stop talking about "health care" reform. No one, in fact, is talking about reforming health care - the experience patients have with their doctors. The real issue is how we pay for our health care, not the care itself. So let's call this issue what it really is: "health insurance" reform.

Semantics to be sure, but debates are about language as much as they are about ideas and the semantics matter. Very few Americans actually want their "care" reformed - or put slightly differently, at a moment when houses are being foreclosed and jobs being lost, they are terrified by anything that sounds like it might interfere with their doctor's visit.

At the same time, few Americans care much about protecting the bloated profits of the health insurance industry. Most Americans want easier access, lower costs, and most, I suspect, would enjoy not having their legitimate claims routinely denied by their insurance carriers. These are the problems that need reforming, not what goes on in the doctor's exam room.

And as we have seen during those farcical "town meetings," talking about "health care" reform is too easily hijacked and is really only a distraction. Let's start talking about "health insurance" reform instead; let's force the Republican Rump to defend the health insurance industry to the nation. Let's make it easier and clearer for Americans to focus on the real issue here.


Isa Lube said...

Not sure it will wrk out or not since other nations under same type of system say it's should be more restrained so not just anyone can get access from hard working tax payers dollars??? I don't want anyone to take food out of my mouth and give it to someone who is sitting around doing nothing-or should you/I???

Steve Conn said...

Isa Lube seems to have missed the point: we ALREADY pay for uninsured people in a variety of indirect ways - we just do so in ways that are hugely more expensive and inefficient. Study after study demonstrates that the U.S. pays more and gets less for health care than any other advanced nation. And I'm really not sure which "other nations" Isa Lube is referring who find their systems "horrible" - not the Canadians, not the English, not the Germans, not the Dutch. Shall I go on??!!

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