Based on the French Openesque rallies in Congress over Healthcare so far, most folks, including Peter Singer in an NYT article*, agree on some key points:
1> Private health insurance must remain available.
2> Consumers must pay less for healthcare.
So, why are we still debating? The "how" is keeping us busy! You, as the consumer and the raison d'etre of this battle, can seek the following from your representatives:
1> A baseline of the current healthcare costs, overt and covert, by consumer segments.
2> Projected costs for current and proposed healthcare plans.
3> Healthcare market structure definition and guidelines for market agent behavior, tied to measurable outcomes, that all entities- private and government- must adhere to.
In plain old straight talk, the answers to these questions help *you* decide.
Both Democrats and Republicans have leveraged the government as a market agent in the financial services industry. This learning could be transferred to the Healthcare industry. It may shed light on triggers for the government to become a service provider market player and also triggers for the government to exit the service provider value chain to return to just regulating the market.
In terms of cost, talk to any healthcare practitioner and he/ she will tell you its all about incentives. What would you change if an internist is not paid by an insurance company for taking steps that help prevent a more expensive medical condition later because it is not part of her job description? What would you change if you thought someone was recommending tests for sleep apnea when its a case of tonsilitis? This requires clarity on not just market structures, but also incentive processes.
To summarize: These questions with help each party in the debate develop a contextual, competitive positioning strategy to achieve recognizable differentiation in the market through both methods and outcomes.
If you are wondering how we can continue supporting broad innovation in healthcare, see here:
* Peter Singer's New York Times article on healthcare: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/magazine/19healthcare-t.html?pagewanted=5
What do you think?