Obama Healthcare Reform Plan Still Evolving

In a country where the cost of employer-provided healthcare insurance has doubled since 1999,the need for comprehensive reform is clear.  It costs an average of $12,680 to insure a family of four, up from $5,791 a decade ago.  For single people, the cost has more than doubled – from $2,196 to $4,704.  obama-healthcare1Still, it’s the employer who pays the lion’s share of healthcare premiums.  A family pays an average of $3,355 per year; the employer’s portion is $9,325.  A single worker typically pays just $721 of healthcare costs; the employer pays $3,983.

At present, 46 million American citizens lack healthcare insurance.  And, as unemployment rates rise, people who lose their insurance stop seeing their physicians and taking needed medications.

President Barack Obama has made a significant start by proposing a $634 billion healthcare reserve fund that will be partially paid for with targeted cuts in payments to insurers, physicians, hospitals, drug manufacturers, other providers and wealthy senior citizens.  According to White House aides, Obama’s intent is to dole out the pain gradually to minimize opposition.  All of these stakeholders were well-represented at the recent White House Healthcare Forum and will be a part of the ongoing dialogue.

The suggested $634 million is only a down payment.  True healthcare reform is likely to cost at least $1 trillion, with half coming from reduced Medicare and Medicaid payments to doctors, hospitals and other providers.  The remaining funds will come from the government’s reduction of tax breaks on wealthy couples earning upwards of $250,000.

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