How to Achieve Universal Coverage While Lowering Health Spending

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<p>A new health care reform proposal released today would ensure near-universal health coverage and help lower overall health spending, all with minimal disruptions to Americans who are satisfied with their current coverage.<br><br>The plan, described today in an <a href="/publications/in-the-literature/2008/may/building-blocks-for-reform--achieving-universal-coverage-with-private-and-public-group-health-insura
">article in <em>Health Affairs</em></a> and a <a href="/publications/issue-briefs/2008/may/the-building-blocks-of-health-reform--achieving-universal-coverage-and-health-system-savings
">Commonwealth Fund issue brief</a>, would:<ul><li>insure 44 million of the estimated 48 million uninsured Americans in 2008;</li><li>offer new insurance choices to individuals and small businesses for nearly one-third less than what employers currently pay, leading to improved coverage or reduced premiums for 49 million individuals;</li><li>potentially save $1.6 trillion over 10 years if coupled with additional reforms that change how health care is paid for, create better information systems, and improve public health.</li></ul>The "Building Blocks" plan would preserve employer-sponsored health insurance, Medicaid, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), while building on the existing success of the Medicare program by offering a Medicare-like option. In addition, a choice of private health plans would be offered through a new national, health insurance "connector" available to small businesses, the self-employed, and everyone without large-employer insurance or Medicare.<br><br>The premiums for the new Medicare option, called "Medicare Extra," would be an estimated $259 per month for individuals and $702 a month for families, 30 percent less than the average premiums currently charged to employers.<br><br>"This approach builds on group insurance coverage and the national reach of Medicare and at the same time addresses the high administrative and premium costs for individuals and small groups," says Karen Davis, president of The Commonwealth Fund and co-author of the proposal. "It also demonstrates that it is possible to buy more for our health care dollars, cover all Americans with high quality insurance, and institute real reforms to stem rising health care costs."<br><br><em>We'd like to know your thoughts about the new proposal. To submit a comment, click on the "Post a Comment" button on our Web site.</em></p>