There are lots of rumors flying around and plenty of misinformation available regarding the health care reform proposals currently before Congress. Today's questions address some of the confusing things you may have been hearing.
Q: Will health care reform lead to a “government takeover” of health care or result in “socialized medicine,” as some claim?
A: No. The bills before Congress preserve our nation’s current employer-based private health insurance system, with public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid continuing to be available as a safety net for older and low-income Americans. The “government takeover” concern is largely based on the public health insurance option that may be available as a choice under some of the bills. It’s very important to note, however, that each person, not the government, would decide whether a private plan or a public plan is the right plan for him or her – if the public plan choice is available at all.
Q: Will health reform lead to rationing of care, as some have said?
A: No. This concern is based on provisions in the bill that authorize “comparative effectiveness research.” This is research that evaluates which drugs or other treatments work best for different medical conditions and different patients. The American Heart Association supports this research because it will provide doctors and their patients with more and better information to help them decide the best course of treatment. Ultimately, however, doctors and patients − not insurance companies or the government −will decide what treatment is best.
Q. I’ve heard claims that health care reform will deny older Americans end-of-life care. What is this about?
A. Nothing could be further from the truth. The House health reform bill includes a provision that would provide reimbursement to physicians who provide counseling to Medicare patients about the care they choose to receive if they have a living will or an advance directive. These consultations are not mandatory, occur only upon the request of the patient, and in fact are designed to make certain that the patient’s wishes come before those of insurance companies or hospitals.
Stay tuned for answers to more questions over the next few weeks. In the meantime, share your questions with us by commenting on this post!