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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A healthier and richer country

Erin Kelly

Staff Writer

Thanks to health reform, young adults can stay on their parents' coverage longer, seniors are protected from spending too much on costly prescription drugs, and insurance companies can no longer deny people coverage if they've ever been sick -and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Because of these provisions we will be a much healthier country. If that's not reason enough to love the bill, consider this: We'll also be a richer country.

Because Congress passed health reform, our system will work more efficiently-both saving lives and the American taxpayers' money. Doctors will begin to get paid for the quality of the health care they provide, rather than quantity; preventive services will now be offered free of charge; and millions of people will gain access to health insurance, which will reduce the instances of costly visits to the ER.

Let's start with the first initiative: investing in quality. A recent blog post demonstrated that in the previous system, doctors are paid for each test and procedure they run, regardless of whether or not those tests help to make patients healthier. This system, known as "fee-for-service" encourages doctors to run many-often unnecessary-tests because that means they make more money. The new law focuses on the quality of care doctors provide, not the quantity of care they deliver-saving people like you and me tons of money.

Health reform will also save us money by nipping health problems in the bud. Currently, many people delay going to the doctor because they either don't have insurance, or can't afford the hefty co-pays. These people often delay care for so long they end up in the emergency room where health care is expensive. With health reform, the financial burden of co-pays or cost-sharing will no longer prevent Americans from going seeing the doctor when they're sick. Insurance plans are also required to offer preventive services free of charge- reducing the instances of preventable diseases that often drive up our country's health care costs.

Still not convinced that there are tons of savings in it for you? Consider the fact that thanks the health reform, a new regulated marketplace will ensure that every American will have access to a broad range of choices, just like Congress has. Or rest easy knowing that the amount of money that you will have to pay out of pocket for health care expenses will be capped. Or picture the worst possible scenario, where you lose your job as well as your health insurance... Thanks to health reform, you'll still be able to purchase affordable insurance thanks to a generous subsidy.

And according to the Congressional Budget Office, health reform will reduce the federal defecit by $138 billion in the first decade and will save $1.2 trillion more in the following decade. So whether the provisions in the bill add up to saving our country money in the long term, or save you and your family money tomorrow, there is something for everyone in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

A heavier pocketbook, and a healthier society: what more could you want?