On Wednesday, the 5th of November, several nations of the world awoke to a change unprecedented in history. The Americans, on the other hand, were winding up after a long day. Many of them could not go to sleep. They were listening with bated breath to the biggest bedtime story ever—of a Black man, Barack Obama, who was just elected as the president of the United States of America.
Obama has promised change - for the people of America and in America's approach to the rest of the world. In the realm of health he has come forth with a plan that, he believes, would ensure affordable health care options for all. Health Insurance
The primary goal of Obama's health care plan is to provide every American with health insurance coverage through public or private means. He wants health care coverage for all Americans that is portable, that favors patient's choice of doctors and care (without governmental interference) and that would make insurance companies increasingly accountable.
Some of the features of Barack Obama's health insurance plans are listed below.
• Provide every American, (regardless of pre-existing conditions) health insurance that is affordable
• Ensure that insurance companies cover pre-existing conditions to enable all Americans to get health coverage through fair and stable premiums.
• Provide health insurance that is portable (the insurance remains even if a person changes/ loses his job)
• Mandatory medical health care coverage for children
• Federal public health insurance program for individuals or businesses who are devoid of other health coverage.
• Set up a "National Health Insurance Exchange" to act as a watchdog group for private insurance. The role of this group would be to create standards and make coverage more affordable.
The annual cost estimates for his program is $50-$65 billion. Obama hopes to finance his plan by rolling back Bush's tax cuts for the rich (those making more than $250,000). Medical Expenses
Health care experts have opined that Obama's reforms will save businesses $140 billion and the ordinary American family $2,500 in premiums, annually. The president-elect plans to avoid wastes in the health care system, and provide health coverage to all Americans, in order to bring down the expenses of uncompensated care.
He also proposes to cover some expensive cases and reduce the burden of employers. The employers then are expected to use the savings to reduce the health insurance premiums of their employees.
Some of the other measures towards cost cutting include:-
• Provide easy access to programs that help in managing chronic conditions.
• Conduct programs for cancer screenings, smoking cessation, and others with the help of insurance plans that are federally supported.
• Update health-related IT (Information Technology).
• Ensure transparency. Hospitals are expected to be open about safety, quality and costs of the health care provided. Drugs
Barack Obama plans to use the bulk purchasing power of the federal government to negotiate for prescription drugs to be bought at a lower rate. He plans to bring forth programs to use more generic drugs. He hopes to encourage generic drugs to enter the market quickly and also looks forward to boosting competition in the drug and insurance markets...
Some of the proposals regarding drug safety include:-•
Provide FDA broader regulatory powers by supporting their new reform bill •
Import safe medicine from other developed nations of the world
Obama acknowledges that electronics and information technology play a lead role in health care. He plans to step up efficiency and cut down costs in the system by implementing state-of-the-art information technology for health. Storing medical records on paper may soon become a thing of the past as technology takes over.
His new plan will invest $10 billion of federal funds a year, over the next five years, in standards-based electronic health information systems.
Electronic health records, if adopted by the majority of hospitals and doctors' offices, will ensure savings upto a sum of $77 billion each year. Patients' privacy will be protected at all costs.
Barack Obama plans to support research on human embryonic stem cells that are created as result of fertility treatments (which would be otherwise discarded). He also plans to provide continued support to research regarding the use of adult stem cell and umbilical cord blood.
Obama believes that promoting and protecting the health and wellness of the people of America is a shared responsibility which requires a lot of collaboration between the various sections of the society. Some of the essential features of public health plan include:-
• Promote public health by covering preventive services, such as cancer screenings
• Increasing national and local preparedness for natural disasters and terrorist attacks
• Further strengthen public health efforts both for protection from disasters and disease prevention
• Fight obesity in children. Remove junk food from school vending machines
• Engage in a global fight against AIDS
• Endorse the legal decision that supports abortion and allow women the freedom of deciding on the late- term abortions
• Work towards reducing teen age pregnancy
Obama's Health Plan - At a Glance
• Ensure that every American is covered by health insurance
• Work towards improvement in health and well being by better prevention / management of chronic diseases
• Increase investment in health Information Technology which will do away with wasteful spending
• Provide reinsurance for serious cases, which will stabilize insurance premiums
• Increase healthy competition within the insurance/pharmaceutical industry
• Minimize abusive practices generated by the monopoly of a few insurance / drug companies
Dr. Reeja Tharu/L