Providing health insurance coverage to the 46 million Americans without it has been receiving more attention in recent months. Several polls have shown rising public interest in the topic. Coverage is fast becoming an issue in the 2008 presidential campaign, for both Democrats and Republicans. President Bush offered an uninsured proposal in his January State of the Union address. Bills dealing with the uninsured have been introduced by members of Congress from both parties. A number of states have also laid out ambitious coverage plans.
The approaches offered for expanding coverage have included: opening up the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP) to more people; offering tax incentives to help small businesses offer coverage to their employees, or to individuals so they can buy coverage on their own; encouraging states to innovate; mandating individual health insurance coverage; and adopting a government-sponsored health insurance system similar to Medicare.
Which proposals seem to have the most promise? How many people would gain coverage under each, and at what cost? Which are the most feasible politically? Could some proposals have unintended consequences, such as causing some of those currently insured to lose their coverage?
To discuss these and related questions, The Commonwealth Fund and the Alliance for Health Reform sponsored a March 19 luncheon briefing. Panelists included: Karen Davis of The Commonwealth Fund, Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution, Katherine Baicker of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors and Dallas Salisbury of the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Ed Howard of the Alliance moderated the session.
Full Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)