In this election year, health reform may be biggest issue

Guest Column: Ted Almon
I have always been somewhat apolitical, never registering with either major party, spreading votes among both, and even others occasionally. And I realize that many people feel strongly about their political positions these days. Still, it seems to me that life goes on regardless of who gets elected. I am more comfortable focused on pragmatism, what will actually work, than any political ideology. More

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OP-ED

In this election year, health reform may be biggest issue

Guest Column: Ted Almon
Posted 9/3/12

I have always been somewhat apolitical, never registering with either major party, spreading votes among both, and even others occasionally. And I realize that many people feel strongly about their political positions these days. Still, it seems to me that life goes on regardless of who gets elected. I am more comfortable focused on pragmatism, what will actually work, than any political ideology.

I do care about the future of our health care system though, and in this political season, reform is at the core of the public debate.

From my perch inside the health care system and my active role in the reform debate, I can see how precarious a future we face. What we decide politically could make a great difference to the sustainability of health care as we know it.

As a businessperson who understands and believes in both the transformative power of free markets, but also how corrupt they can become, I am amazed to hear political hopefuls cast the current reform law as a government takeover of health care. It couldn’t be more the opposite – really.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is nothing if not a free-market approach. Just a few years ago an essentially similar plan was known as the Republican option. There isn’t even a “public” option in it, which many thought necessary to balance the leverage of insurers.

Its main provision for cost control in fact calls for the establishment of health-insurance exchanges. If anything, these marketplaces should act to enhance and enable competition. If they work as planned, they should bring transparency to a now confusing morass of choices, allowing consumers to make rational choices based upon their individual needs and values.

By consolidating individuals and small groups into larger groups that can shift market share substantially, they should elicit aggressive bids, squeezing much of the overhead from a bloated model, and helping to reduce costs the old-fashioned way.

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