An efficient US health care system that most effectively addresses the needs of patients is in the interest of health care professionals. As advocates for better patient care, solving the health care woes of America is a key concern for you. At the center of the US health care problem is rising cost to a system that has been labeled as inefficient. As individuals engaged in the health care profession, you should make an effort to navigate our system in the right direction. But which course is right? Our presidential candidates have different opinions.

Before looking at the health care proposals of Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama, it is important to understand how the rising cost of health care is impacting Americans. An article titled “Facts on the Cost of Health Care” posted on the National Coalition on Health Care Web site outlines some of the effects:

  • National surveys show that the primary reason people are uninsured is the high cost of health insurance coverage.
  • Economists have found that rising health care costs correlate to drops in health insurance coverage.
  • One in four Americans say their family has had a problem paying for medical care during the past year, up 7% over the past 9 years. Nearly 30% say someone in their family has delayed medical care in the past year, a new high based on recent polling. Most say the medical condition was at least somewhat serious.

Obviously, rising costs are taking a toll. Here is what the candidates are proposing to do:

With multiple approaches detailed in the candidates’ proposals, how can we know which direction is best? Gail Wilensky, who ran the Medicare program under former President Bush and is now advising Sen McCain, told The Wall Street Journal  in an April 28 article, “The real answer is we don’t know.” Though this uncertainty is cause for concern, the good news is that we have choices, and candidates who are seeking alternatives. As health care professionals, you are in the unique position of formulating your opinion on heath care based on what is best not only for you but also for your patients. As you decide on your candidate, make sure not to leave your patients out of the equation.

—Franklin A. Holman
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