Our health care system costs too much, wastes too much, makes too many mistakes, and gives back too little value for our money. The costs are continuing to accelerate at an unsustainable rate. Access is uneven. Too often, quality of care depends on where you live. For the wellbeing of all Americans, we need to do better.
The Affordable Care Act of 2010 takes significant steps toward all these goals. But the task of building a better-performing, sustainable health care system will take years. AARP believes we should preserve the best of our current system—including choice of doctors and treatments—even as we adopt reforms.
We all share a responsibility to resist wasteful and unnecessary health care costs. Individuals can promote their own health by eating right, exercising and following medical instructions. Doctors should be careful stewards of costly health care resources and base treatments on the best evidence. The government and private insurers can spur better care through policies and incentives that reward doctors for good results. Government also should establish valid, easily understandable measures of provider performance.
Employers should continue to offer coverage or contribute to its cost. Insurers must comply with the new law and stop denials of coverage due to pre-existing health conditions. Similarly, providers of supplemental Medicare insurance should also be required to provide coverage to seniors who have pre-existing conditions. The practice of age-rating insurance premiums for those in the under-65 individual market will be limited under the Affordable Care Act, resulting in more affordable premiums for most older persons.
Ultimately, the nation will need a long-term, stable revenue source to pay for health care, so everyone has access to decent coverage and care of the highest quality. The costs of health reform should be shared fairly.
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