I've been hearing about the need for health care reform for at least the past couple of decades. And problems such as lack of insurance, insurance fraud and rising medical care prices have been around longer than that.
Health care reform was the cornerstone of Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign and is a central issue in many of this year's candidates' campaigns as well.
So why is it taking so long to do something about it? I mean, we have close to 50 million uninsured people in this country, drug prices are skyrocketing and our health care system is becoming an embarrassment throughout the world for the most developed nation on earth.
Is it really that hard to fix?
The reality is that health care reform is a complex issue, with many influences, both positive and negative. I read with interest a new article in the New England Journal of Medicine this week. A professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City, Dr. Lawrence D. Brown, offers a fascinating analysis of why health care reform has never been achieved.
First, Brown outlines how experts have concluded (or diagnosed, as he put it) that our US healthcare system is in dire straits and about to collapse. Then, he goes on to explain how things aren't quite as they seem and offers reasons why very little change has occurred in recent decades.
Brown says that although the US healthcare system is deeply dysfunctional, it is also basically stable. He also theorizes that there is not enough perceived urgency to initiate real change, despite the fact that the system is widely unpopular.
It's an intriguing take on things and I highly encourage anyone interested in health care reform to take a look at the analysis. It doesn't hold out a lot of hope that we'll see change in our lifetimes, but let's hope that whoever our new President is, health care reform IS on the front burner.
Published On: January 31, 2008