Health Care: Urgency needed on coverage, cost issues

Published 8:48 am Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Free Press, Mankato

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Let’s hope Democrats don’t bask in their unexpected victory of the Republican House failure to repeal Obamacare. The plan needs repair, and a bipartisan effort is needed not only because all of us are smarter than some of us, but because no one will benefit if we do nothing.

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The conundrum of affordable health care with reasonable universal access turned out to be not only a difficult political problem, but a difficult economic problem.

Universal access only works in our high-cost, high-service health care system if we have healthy people subsidizing sick people. There’s just no getting around that. The Affordable Care Act failed in its attempt to do this. The individual mandate didn’t work because the penalty just wasn’t high enough to induce young people to buy even more expensive health care.

The Republican “replace” plan didn’t fly because it would have pushed too many people off insurance and still would have been costly. It did not come close to enhancing access for everyone with a better, less-costly plan, as President Donald Trump had promised during the campaign.

Unfortunately, in politics, money and economics matter. A bipartisan effort could not only bring the greatest minds of health care economics together, but could also resolve the politics.

The private sector insurance companies also need to step up. They play an important role in the health care business. And they receive great benefit from the system of expanding health care coverage to millions of Americans.

It’s been disappointing to see them take their ball and go home as soon as they risk reducing their hefty profits.

We don’t have the answer to health care, except that financing it will never be “fair” to everyone. We should remember: All of us will someday be older and need more health care. It’s got to work for all of us.

So everyone needs to be part of the solution.