IN THE MAIL: Act now on health care reformThe North Dakota Nurses Association has been advocating for health care reform that would guarantee access to high-quality health care for all.
By: Wanda Rose, Bismarck
BISMARCK — It’s time for Congress to act on health care reform.
Despite differing views about the issue, the majority of Americans recognize that the current health care system is not focused on health or care, and it is certainly not a system.
The current system is focused on disease, as reflected in what services are reimbursed. It lacks care (just ask anyone who has battled with an insurance company following denial of services).
As for a system, fragmentation remains a major feature of our health care system. This is shown by poor access to care, gaps and inequities, inadequate prevention efforts, escalating costs, fragmented policies and lack of coordination among health care specialists.
To highlight the fragmentation, an extensive review of health records across the country in 2003 and published in the New England Journal of Medicine found 45 percent of patients do not get the recommended preventive care, 46 percent do not get the recommended acute care and 44 percent do not get the recommended chronic care.
There is a consensus that the health care system is broken and must be fixed now. Today, Americans are asking for affordable, portable and financially sustainable health insurance — insurance that does not have a coverage gap and one that covers pre-existing conditions.
A study in the August 2009 American Journal of Medicine found that 62 percent of American bankruptcies were linked to medical bills, a number that had increased by almost 50 percent since 2003.
Health care today is neither available nor accessible to everyone. Millions lack health insurance and are unable to pay for basic services.
The North Dakota Nurses Association has been advocating for health care reform that would guarantee access to high-quality health care for all. The ultimate impact of any health care reform must be measured in terms of people it serves. How healthy is our population? How does our health status compare with that of other nations? Does our health care system prevent premature death and disability and provide good care to most of its citizens?
Rose is president of the North Dakota Nurses Association.