By Kathleen Sebelius
March 15, 2010
Over the last year, we've had a productive national conversation about how to reform our health insurance system. Many worthwhile ideas have been proposed, and deciding on a final package of reforms has been challenging. Compromise always is. But now that Congress is nearing a vote, the choice for those who want to end insurance company abuses, give Americans better insurance options, and bring down health care costs is very easy: Support a plan that advances all of those goals, or do nothing and watch things get even worse.
If reform fails, we will continue down the same disastrous path we're on now. Families will pay more and more: Within 10 years, health insurance premiums for the average family will double, eating up one-sixth of the average worker's paycheck. And there will be less and less security: The share of companies that provide insurance for their workers will continue to drop, leaving 18 million more Americans without health care coverage in 2020. By then, we'll pay $140 billion a year to provide care for the uninsured.
President Obama's plan will put us on a new course by giving families more control of their health care choices. It will protect Americans from insurance abuses by ending discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and eliminating caps on benefits. It will give self-employed workers and small-business owners more choices by creating a new, consumer-friendly health insurance marketplace where they can choose between high-quality plans. And it will bring down health care costs for families with the broadest package of health care cost-cutting measures ever to come before Congress.
If the president's plan passes, 31 million uninsured Americans will get access to affordable coverage. Employers will see their health costs drop by $3,000 a year over the next decade. Over the same period, the deficit will fall by $100 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. And, as more than 40 leading economists wrote in a letter last week, we will have "a serious, multi-faceted initiative to improve the quality and efficiency of American medical care."
For Americans who support these goals — reducing health care costs, increasing choice and competition, preventing insurance abuses, and covering more than 30 million uninsured Americans — the only sensible choice is to support the president's plan, too.