Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Can We Buy Our Way to Health Reform?

library C. Eugene Steuerle

The nonpartisan Urban Institute publishes studies, reports, and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders.

© TAX ANALYSTS. Reprinted with permission.

Note: This report is available in its entirety in the Portable Document Format (PDF).

The text below is a portion of the complete document.

No issue has stumped policymakers more than how to provide healthcare to its citizens in an efficient and fair manner. Healthcare costs spiral out of control, usurping other vital government functions. Those rising costs also lead to increased numbers of uninsured, as employers and employees both decide to avoid costs simply by neglecting health insurance altogether. Every recent health "fix" has involved trying to buy health reform by devoting even more dollars to it. Do we lack adequate drug care? Then spend more through a drug bill. Do tax breaks tend to discourage consumer involvement in their healthcare? Then spend more on health savings accounts. Yet each of those enactments adds cost to a system that already is unsustainable. Yes, they might get at some particular imbalance in the system — removing some bias against drugs or against spending out of pocket — but in simply throwing more money into the system, they add to, rather than subtract from, the fundamental problem that someone, somewhere, somehow has to decide what health spending is worthwhile and what is not.

Note: This report is available in its entirety in the Portable Document Format (PDF).

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