Comparing Different Paths to Health Insurance Reform

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<p>Providing affordable, comprehensive health insurance coverage for all Americans--including the 47 million who went without coverage in 2006--is the most important step in improving access to quality health care. How reforms are designed will be critical to achieving universal coverage, as well as improving health care quality and controlling costs.<br><br>A new report released by The Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System, <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=30255&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecommonwealthfund%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D553840%26%23doc553840">A Roadmap to Health Insurance for All: Principles for Reform</a>, discusses the keys to achieving universal coverage and improving the performance of the entire health system. Written by Fund assistant vice president Sara Collins, Ph.D., and colleagues, the report examines three different reform approaches proposed by governors, current presidential hopefuls, and congressional lawmakers. It assesses not only each approach's ability to achieve universal coverage, but also its potential to improve quality and efficiency and rein in spiraling health care costs.<br><br>The reform approaches include:<ul><li>Plans that rely primarily on tax incentives and the individual insurance market (President George W. Bush, Rudolph Giuliani, Senator John McCain, and Mitt Romney).</li><li>Reforms that would build on the nation's current mix of public and private insurance options, with responsibility for financing shared by government, employers, and households (Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the five Democratic presidential candidates, including Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama).</li><li>Public insurance options, under which nearly all Americans would be covered through a program like Medicare (Senator Edward Kennedy and Representative Dennis Kucinich, among others).</li></ul>While the Commission on a High Performance Health System does not endorse a specific proposal, it views a mixed private/public group insurance system as the most pragmatic approach. This strategy, the Commission believes, would build on the best features of our current system while minimizing dislocation for the millions of Americans who currently have good coverage.</p>