All Americans should have affordable health care choices. But our current health care system costs too much, wastes too much, makes too many mistakes, and gives us back too little value for our money. Moreover, roughly 47 million people, more than 7 million of them ages 50 to 64, are left out of the system altogether because they don’t have health insurance.
This situation has to change. For too many people, lack of affordable, quality health care is closing the door on the American dream. Moreover, our current health care system is unsustainable, not just for individuals but also for employers and government. I know from experience that unsustainable growth in health costs places a huge burden on American businesses. If these costs aren’t restrained, total spending on health care will rise from 16 percent of GDP in 2007 to 25 percent in 2025 and 49 percent in 2082, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That’s a price tag that we as a nation simply can’t afford.
AARP's health policy priorities
It’s also why health care reform is AARP’s top priority. We simply can’t fix the economy without restructuring the delivery of health care, expanding access and cutting costs. For families and workers, the loss of jobs has been compounded by pay cuts and reduced insurance coverage. Among the most vulnerable are people 50 to 64 who lack employer-sponsored insurance. For too many of them, the individual insurance market is often unavailable at any price because of exclusions for preexisting conditions.
Medicare is straining under the weight of rising health care costs even as Medicare beneficiaries face extremely heavy burdens. They spend, on average, 28 percent of their income on health coverage—six times more than those with coverage through employers. We must transform health care and slow the rate of cost growth throughout the system to keep Medicare strong now and for future generations.
I joined President Obama and congressional leaders when the President announced an agreement that would cut prices in Medicare’s Part D coverage gap—the doughnut hole—by 50 percent. This is an early win for reform and a major step forward. But it is only a start.
Among our other priorities:
- making sure that people 50 to 64 have a choice of affordable health care;
- slowing the growth of health care costs by cracking down on waste, fraud, abuse, medical errors, and poor-quality care; and
- improving outcomes through better management that coordinates chronic, acute, and long-term care services, and ensures that patients have access to the full range of support they need.
How you can join the effort to reform health care
This is a critical time in the health care reform debate. Congress is making critical decisions. We need you to be informed, involved, and engaged.
- To learn more, contact your elected officials.
- To become involved in the health care reform effort, go to www.HealthActionNow.org, or call 1-866-227-7449 toll-free.
I urge you to join the cause. Together, we can make sure that every American has access to affordable, quality health care for generations to come. The time to act is now.