Obama Healthcare Forum

POLICY BACKGROUND AND KEY QUESTIONS

The President-elect believes that every American should have high quality and affordable health care, and to reach this goal, we must modernize our health care system in order to:

  • Improve health care quality and cut costs;
  • Expand coverage and access; and
  • Increase the emphasis on primary care and prevention.

As we work to revamp our health care system, we need to hear from you. There is no problem that we cannot solve together-and it is out of our collective wisdom and experience that we will identify potential solutions to the many health care challenges that we face. We need to hear your ideas and your stories so that we can report them to the President-elect. What follows is brief background information to help you start a discussion and a set of key questions. Your answers to them will guide our collective effort to reform the U.S. health system.

I. OVERVIEW OF THE PROBLEM

The potential of health care in America is enormous and ever expanding. Diseases that once were life-threatening are now curable; conditions that once were devastating are now treatable. We have the knowledge to extend and improve lives.  However, as the stories of those who participated in the recent on-line discussion at http://www.change.gov testify, our system is flawed and fails to deliver affordable, high-quality health care to all Americans. Our system faces three interrelated problems.

First, health care costs are skyrocketing, hurting our families as well as our economy:

  • Health insurance premiums have doubled in the past 8 years, accompanied by increasing co-pays and deductibles that threaten access to care.1
  • Large medical bills have contributed to half of bankruptcies and foreclosures.2
  • Rising health care costs place a burden on American businesses, as they try to balance health benefit costs with job growth and competitiveness. American manufacturers are paying more than twice as much on health benefits as most of their foreign competitors (measured in cost per hour).3
  • Problems with health care quality and administrative “waste” contribute to these costs:
  • Medical errors result in as many as 100,000 deaths per year in U.S. hospitals.4
  • On average, American adults received just 55 percent of recommended care for the leading causes of death and disability.5
  • The U.S. spent $412 per capita on health care administration and insurance in 2003-nearly 6 times as much as other developed countries.6

Second, over forty-five million Americans have no health insurance:

  • Nearly 160 million Americans have job-based insurance, but many are just a pink slip away from joining the ranks of the uninsured. For every 1 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate, over one million people become uninsured.7
  • Being uninsured leads to delayed care-late diagnoses for cancer when it is harder and more expensive to treat, and preventable complications due to untreated diabetes. It also leads to denied care- a child without health insurance is less likely to receive medical attention for recurrent ear infections or for asthma.Uninsured trauma victims are less likely to be admitted to the hospital and are 37 percent more likely to die of injuries.8
  • Even people with coverage are increasingly finding that it is insufficient or simply not there when needed.Nearly one in five Americans either delay care or have unmet needs despite having health insurance.9

Third, our nation’s investment in prevention and public health is inadequate, leading to rapid spread of chronic diseases, many of which could be prevented entirely or managed:

  • One in 3 Americans-or 133 million-have a chronic condition,10 and 5 chronic diseases-heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes-cause over two-thirds of all deaths.11
  • Approximately 1 in 3 children born today will develop diabetes in their lifetime.12
  • Only four cents out of every health care dollar is spent on prevention and public health.13

For the President-Elect’s Health Care Plan and questions, click here:

obamahealthforumguide4

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