Health Insurance,Technology, And the National Debate

by Jeremy Ehrenthal

Posted on Monday 19th of October 2009

Spent any time listening to the health care debate recently? It seems almost impossible to avoid, and the partisan fighting on either side of the aisle can make for a difficult time in understanding the issues.

President Obama has tried to lay out his plans to show how they will benefit all Americans, and while some of the details of the funding and budgeting remain fuzzy, the reforms are fairly comprehensive. A stop in July in Ohio gave the President the stage to speak in a town-hall type meeting.

There, he explained that his reforms were not proposed only for those Americans (over 45 million) who were without health insurance; instead, he maintained that he was working to try to hold insurers to a higher standard for whom they will cover. Out-of-pocket expenses are a huge issue across the board and both the President and the Democratic Party at large are emphasizing the need to cap these expenses for those already insured under a plan. An additional key point the President makes is the importance of making it illegal to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, making it more feasible for those with illnesses from diabetes to cancer to obtain health insurance to help manage the costs of their care. As it stands, such a diagnosis can almost immediately bankrupt those who do not carry the appropriate levels of coverage (or who do not have insurance at all).

In an economy in which small business (and larger business, as well) are being hit harder and harder in their bottom line by employee health-care costs, both sides agree to the need for reform. Interestingly, the fact that President Obama chose to lay out many of the specifics of his plan in Cleveland provided a background for a case study in success, focused on the Cleveland Clinic.

The Cleveland Clinic is recognized nationally as one of the best providers of care at the lowest-per-patient cost. During his remarks in July, President Obama praised the high quality of care doctors and nurses provided, at their own discretion, and called for those types of reforms to become national so that the quality of care could be determined by health care providers (as opposed to insurance companies). The highly trained staff at the Cleveland Clinic is empowered to make on-the-spot health care decisions for their patients without elaborate insurance company involvement. The technology of having medical records avialable with the click of a button can go very far in not just saving money but saving lives.

This quality of care is made possible in part due to the technology employed by the Cleveland Clinic, allowing for better patient record-keeping and more accurate test monitoring. Repeat tests, or duplicative tests, almost never take place due to a speedy and accurate technology backbone that accurately and efficiently monitors patients’ procedures, health, and ongoing treatments. Fewer tests means lower expenses. This focus on technology will likely be an ongoing segment of the health care debate. Better care with a cost-effective bottom line is the goal both sides are seeking.

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