Thursday, August 13, 2009

Howard Dean's Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform

Written with Igor Volsky and Faiz Shakir

A review copy was provided free by the Amazon Vine program, however the biggest influence on this review was my party affiliation, strong support of healthcare reform, and my great admiration for Dr. Howard Dean.

I thought I was a little smarter than the average bear when it came to understanding healthcare reform, since I worked in employee benefits for more than 10 years in the 70s and 80s when cost-containment (but not yet issues of denied coverage) had just become a major issue. However, I still learned quite a bit from Dr. Dean's book about the past history of healthcare reform, what is included in Obama's plan, and what other countries do. I highlighted huge portions to quote for healthcare reform blog.

Though obviously put together quickly, including a few typos and awkward sentences, it is still quite interesting and easy to read. At the same time, I'd say it is as objective as it needs to be in this fight that has turned into a shouting match. When opponents of reform are spouting outright lies--which they are--there isn't room for much deference. On the other hand, what some are touting as a plan from the far left, actually pays great homage to our free enterprise system. Dean repeats over and over that Americans wouldn't accept a plan without choice, though I'm not so sure that is true.

However, as originally a strong advocate of single payer, I was amazed to learn that most of the countries providing universal healthcare are not single payer but a system of competing private plans with guaranteed coverage and community rating with most either providing some form of public option for those who can't afford private coverage or a mandate on what private insurers can charge. As I can't see anyone in this country accepting regulation of what a private insurer can charge as premiums, the public option now appears to me as the most reasonable way to go.

I was a little vague on how much of what Dean outlines is actually part of the Obama reform plan and how much is what he, Dr. Dean, would like to see. But there's no doubt that, as a physician and former governor who successfully reformed Vermont's healthcare system, he is knowledgeable on the subject and his ideas should be considered seriously.

Even if you think you already know where you stand on this subject, I suggest you read this book. It could change your mind.

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