We need to invest in cost-effective prevention, and stop allowing insurers to make profits by denying claims
September 28, 2010 -- The United States does not appear to have the best practice outcomes on some important figures such as life expectancy at birth for males or females, health life expectancy or death rates for children under the age of 5, according to some basic statistics from the World Health Organization
The only categories where we are greater are both the amount we spend on health per person, and the percentage we spend on health compared to our gross domestic product on a per person basis.
As we in Oregon debate how to make healthcare more affordable, if we continue to allow insurance companies to make profits on basic medical services by denying claims, continue to have very high administrative costs caused in part by providers having to bill different insurance companies who have different rules and practices, and continue to not invest in cost-effective prevention that most of the other developed countries now do -- we will not be addressing some of the basic reasons why we spend more while not covering basic healthcare prevention and access for all our residents.
Universal access to basic healthcare for all Oregonians and a 21st century Oregon health delivery system are inter-connected.
Michael Leahy is currently an associate professor of health sciences at Linfield College and a clinical instructor in family medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. He was a leading healthcare executive for over 13 years with Kaiser Permanente in Portland in the Bay area and a former public health director in Alameda County, California and Tillamook, Oregon, and the founding CEO of OCHIN in Portland.
Editor’s Note: In my previous role as the founder of Oregon Health Forum, I met Mike over 20 years ago when he was Kaiser’s VP Health Plan Manager and chair of the Oregon Health Council, which recommended the creation of the Health Services Commission and the Oregon Health Plan – Diane Lund-Muzikant
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