Consumer Choice in Health Care: How Could Reform Affect Our Choices? How Could We Make Better Choices?

June 25, 2009

The idea of choice has long been a hallmark of the American health care system. We pride ourselves in believing that we – not government bureaucrats – choose our doctors, hospitals and health plans.

Now that health reform is being discussed in earnest on Capitol Hill, some wonder if we will be able to maintain our existing choices under a reformed health care system. Others say that our choices will grow, not shrink, as a result of reform, especially for the uninsured and the underinsured. Yet another viewpoint: Most Americans have choices now, but we don’t have enough information to make well-informed choices.

This briefing, which was open to media only, brought together nationally known health policy experts for a conversation on consumer choice in health care – Why is choice of health care providers important? How much choice do we really have now? How much choice do we need? How might health reform affect our choices? In some instances, do we have too much choice? How could health information technology help us make more intelligent choices?

Sponsored by the Alliance for Health Reform and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the briefing featured: Uwe Reinhardt, a health economist at Princeton University; Joe Antos, a health economist at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington, DC; Daniel Callahan, a medical ethicist and cofounder of The Hastings Center in New York State; and former Congressman Tony Coelho, chair of the Partnership to Improve Patient Care. Ed Howard of the Alliance moderated.


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