Karen Davis on Defining Affordable Coverage

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Ensuring that all Americans have access to affordable health insurance and care is one of the goals of federal health reform, if not the primary goal. But determining what is and is not "affordable" for different groups is a challenge that is reflected in the varying levels of coverage and assistance offered across the three bills now before Congress. <br /><br />In a <a href="/blog/2009/what-affordable-health-care">new blog post</a>, Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis looks at the differences in the provisions of the bills that affect premiums and out-of-pocket costs for individuals, families, and employers. Specifically, she examines how each bill addresses the expansion of the Medicaid program, the creation of an essential insurance benefit package, and sliding-scale subsidies to make premiums and cost-sharing affordable for low- to moderate-income families, as well as the hardship exemptions. <br /><br />"Though these issues will be difficult to resolve, reaching consensus on what constitutes affordability and committing the necessary funds to achieve it are crucial in securing access to essential care for all and protection from the financial hardship that illness can now bring," Davis says. <br />