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Reform resource potpourri

August 10th, 2009

By jeremy.engdahl-johnson

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a series of state-by-state reports on health reform. Check out your state.

Uwe Reinhardt is part of a discussion of healthcare costs at the National Journal that’s populated by heavy hitters. Here’s an excerpt from Prof. Reinhardt:

A message President Obama should hammer home crisply – and I mean crisply – to the American middle class is that the sun may be shining today on them, but that it is sailing into a perfect storm.

According to the Milliman Medical Index, total health spending (employer-paid premium, employee-paid premium and out-of-pocket spending) for a typical non-elderly American family of four is now $16,700. It has been growing at an average annual compound rate of about 8.5% since 2000. At a rate of only 8%, total health spending for that family will rise to over $36,000. Yet the gross wage base that should, ideally, support all of a family’s spending (even the part “paid” by employers but ultimately taken out of the employee’s take-home pay) has been growing only at 3% or so in the past decade and is not rising at only 1.8%.

Do the math! If health reform fails and the status quo continues unabated, health care will chew up the budgets of American middle class families like PacMan, and millions more middle class families will be tossed into the pool of uninsured. That’s what is in the status quo for the American middle class.

Instead of lengthy discourses fit for publication in Health Affairs, President Obama could get this message across with one simple flip chart. Perhaps then the American middle class would appreciate more what benefits their families may derive – perhaps not today, but over the next decade – from a program of systematic cost containment and federal subsidies for lower-income Americans.

Finally, we’ve talked about the cost of care in Florida before. Here’s one attempt to reverse that trend.

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