As we begin seriously considering what the next decade holds for the U.S. health care system based on the elements of Obamacare, we must bear in mind that it is not simply how many people are covered and how many are not.
Crucial to the success or failure of the whole complex system is whether the many elements of the plan, that are largely invisible to the public, are able to make the whole health delivery system more efficient and more effective.
If that happens, which it will if all parties to the process collaborate, then the cost curve can be bent and total costs, as well individual costs, can be brought down to make the system relatively more affordable, and more credible to a public that has been swiftly losing confidence.
Many of these hidden parts have been in development since the law was enacted four years ago.
According to a number of reports, many are already showing real promise, including steps to make duplication far less necessary, methods to get medical records suitably protected in the cloud to be readily accessed from anywhere, efforts to make use of very expensive equipment much more effectively and further steps to make confinement in hospitals shorter and more efficient.
Far too many people are rooting for Obamacare to fail for ideological reasons. That is both a shame and shameful.
Congress has produced a prodigiously important step forward in national health care, the Supreme Court has upheld that law and the responsibility of all now is not merely to give it a chance but to actively participate in helping it succeed, because if it fails we all will suffer badly and those who wish for failure will inevitably be among those hurt. That simply makes no sense.
Whatever one’s views of individual mandates, keeping your own doctor or contraceptive coverage, the underpinnings of Obamacare offer the promise of stopping the skyrocketing costs that are threatening the quality and availability of coverage to the 55 percent of Americans who receive health insurance through their jobs.
So, the national goal ahead of us should be to work together to give Obamacare a real opportunity to succeed, which brings to mind a line I heard a few years back, well before Obamacare was a glint in many eyes.
I was with an old friend — actually at the time he was 94 — I asked him how he kept busy, and he said he had some kind of doctor’s appointment every day to deal with the inevitable things that come with age. He then added that he had come to the conclusion that, “A doctor a day keeps the apple away!”
Perhaps he was signaling that old-fashioned remedies — like eating apples — were not sufficient to prolonging life, but that modern doctors, given a proper chance to do their jobs right and a system that supports them in that pursuit, just might succeed.