Today, as we confront a viral threat that is challenging our health system, its capacity, and how care is financed, it seems appropriate to review some fundamentals. Health care reform has been speeding down a particular track, changing how health care is covered, paid, delivered, and organized. These reforms may seem to be about health care financing, but will make a future difference in health care access and patient outcomes.
Medicare is driving the train with its huge budget and rule-making capabilities. But insurance companies, in lockstep, are rapidly implementing similar changes.
Understanding all those changes is no easy task. The bureaucratic jargon of health care reform continually expands and morphs, as words and phrases change meaning or are spun by marketing gurus. Many practicing physicians are too busy to pay attention to the business end of health care; most consumers are too busy at their regular jobs and caring for loved ones to research what it all means for them.