New Commonwealth Fund Report Finds National Health Insurance Exchange and Choice of Affordable Plans Key to Stable, Secure Health Insurance for 71 Million Uninsured and Underinsured, and One-Third of Insured Americans Forced to Frequently Change Insurance
Washington, DC, June 11, 2009—The Commonwealth Fund and Consumers Union will come together today for an event in Washington, D.C. to highlight the need for health reform that will provide security and stability for millions of people struggling to get the health care they need and describe how a patient-centered health care system would make a difference for them.
According to a new Commonwealth Fund report released today, a number of reforms currently being discussed would move the U.S. toward a more patient-centered health care system that would provide access and affordability to millions of Americans. The report says creating a new market for health insurance coverage by introducing a national health insurance exchange with choices of plans is essential to ensuring a health care system that provides affordable health insurance choices, stable and secure health care coverage, and high quality care. Forty-six million Americans were uninsured at the start of the recession, 25 million were underinsured, 72 million reported difficulty paying medical bills or had medical debt, and one-third of insured Americans changed insurance in the last three years and often not by choice, according to the report.
"We have a historic opportunity this year to move the nation toward a truly high performing health care system," said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis. "As the debate about how best to proceed continues, and we hear from stakeholders on all sides, it is imperative that we keep the most important voice—the voice of the patient—front and center. Above all else, our health care system has to work for the people it is designed to serve."
Today's event will feature several Americans who are currently coping with inadequate health insurance, unaffordable health care costs, and medical debt:
"There's plenty of evidence that our health care system is broken. It's important to remember that there are real lives and families behind all the statistics and data that point to the need for reform," said James Guest, President of Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. "It's time to make sure that all Americans get affordable, high quality health coverage they can count on when they need it most."
Additional Report Findings
The report, Front and Center: Ensuring That Health Reform Puts People First, uses the Path reform model developed by the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System to detail how such reform will affect different groups of Americans. Overall, researchers found that the inclusion of a national health insurance exchange giving patients the option of a public health insurance plan would control premium costs, eliminate wasteful administrative spending, and provide insurance stability to consumers regardless of their income, employment status, or pre-existing health conditions.
The authors point out that benefits could include 100,000 fewer preventable deaths, $3 trillion in national health care savings between 2010-2020, and yearly health care savings of nearly $2,300 for the average family by 2020. Specifically, if coupled with reform efforts to improve quality and increase efficiency, these reforms would benefit: