Universal Health Coverage By 2010 Should Be U.S. Aim, Institute Says
The United States should strive to enact some type of universal health care by 2010, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine.
The Institute–a private, nonprofit group that advises the government on health care issues–says the lack of health insurance in the U.S. has become a critical problem that can and should be eliminated.
The Institute does not recommend any specific path to universal health care in its report, saying that is beyond its purview. However, it says, any proposed solutions should be judged by several guiding principles.
First, it says, the coverage must truly be universal, covering everyone living in the United States.
Second, the Institute says, coverage must be continuous, since gaps in coverage can result in diminished health.
Third, the Institute says, coverage should be affordable to individuals and families. The high cost of coverage, it says, is the main reason people give for being uninsured.
Fourth, the Institute says, coverage should be affordable and sustainable for society, meaning there must be mechanisms to control inflation and encourage use of cost-effective services.
Fifth, the Institute says, coverage should enhance health and well-being by promoting access to high-quality care that is effective, efficient, safe, timely, patient-centered and equitable.
The Institute notes that 4 prototype strategies have been proposed to achieve universal care.
The strategy that would require the least change to the current system is a major expansion of public sector health care and a new tax credit.