The debate over reforming the nation’s healthcare system is heating up. Lawmakers in Congress are debating a number of plans, and President Obama has called for passage of comprehensive health reform this year.
Approximately 46 million Americans currently have no health insurance, and an additional 25 million are underinsured. Meanwhile, health care costs are rising. The United States spent $2.4 trillion on healthcare in 2007, or $7,900 per person, 52 percent more than in Norway, the world’s second most expensive health care system.
AIA members know all too well that the high cost of insurance is stretching their personal and business budgets. The AIA believes that reform must allow unrestricted access and choice of affordable health insurance and care for all Americans.
But how to get there? A national insurance plan like Canada and many European nations have? Tax incentives and purchasing pools to lower costs? There is little consensus on how best to expand access, improve quality, and lower costs.
We want to hear from you. Click on the “Continue reading” option below for more detail on four of the most prominent healthcare reform options before Congress. Then go to the polling site and let us know which one you would support the most, if any. The AIA will report to Congress and the White House the results of this survey to let policymakers know where architects stand on this crucial issue.
The single-payer option is a national health insurance system that would function similarly to Medicare, where doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers would receive payment from one single fund administered by the government. No other insurance providers would exist. Supporters argue that risk can be mitigated by the sheer number of people being covered and can be calculated over the entire lifespan of the recipients, rather than year to year as is typical under private plans. Opponents believe that a government-controlled health insurance system is expensive, inefficient, and would lead to rationing of healthcare.
Public Insurance Option Plan
Under this option, the government would create an insurance program to compete with private insurance companies. Consumers could stay with their private insurer or buy into the government plan. The plan also would provide subsidies for individuals who cannot afford to purchase healthcare. Supporters believe that the government could negotiate better prices, making healthcare an affordable option for most Americans. Opponents believe other insurance providers would not be able to compete with a government-run plan and would go out of business, leaving the government option as the only, or one of the few, options available to consumers.
Under a “co-op” approach, those wishing for an alternative to existing insurance plans would pool their money, form an independent organization, and elect a board of directors to govern the organization. The organization would then negotiate prices based on the needs of its members. Supporters believe that this option is a better way than a plan run by the government or for-profit insurance companies. Opponents argue that co-ops would not guarantee lower prices or more access.
Tax Incentives and Group-Insurance Plans
This option would focus on allowing states, small businesses, associations, and other organizations to band together under a group-based health insurance, potentially providing the framework to make healthcare coverage more affordable. This option would also provide tax benefits to individuals who do not have employer-provided health insurance, small businesses, and low-income individuals. Supporters argue that these market-based ideas would avoid the rationing and cost of a national insurance plan. Opponents argue that such an approach will not come close to providing healthcare for millions of people who are currently not covered by insurance.