John McDonough of Health Care for All has mentioned a new report issued by the National Coalition on Health Care. This report, prepared by Professor Kenneth E. Thorpe of Emory University, discusses four possible approaches to the reform of our national health care system. These four are (1) mandating employer coverage for workers, (2) expanding existing public health programs, (3) creating a new public health program modeled after the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and (4) establishing a universal, publicly financed health care system.
According to Thorpe, any of these approaches would yield significant savings in health care spending over the current system. Over the next ten years, Thorpe projects that the current system would cost our economy $21.7 trillion (present value @ 5%). The first three approaches are each projected to save approximately $200 billion (PV @ 5%). Interestingly, the fourth approach, universal publicly financed health care coverage would save more than $800 billion (again PV @ 5%). Both employers and subscribers would save under any of these plans.
In the current environment, it would seem that even achieving a serious debate about universal health coverage would face long odds. However, policymakers should think long and hard about that $800 billion - almost 7 percent of our current GDP.
(Note: the PV calculations above are mine - based on streams of payments projected by Professor Thorpe.)
See this subsequent post.