With the health insurance reform bill having passed in the House two weeks ago and with Senate Democrats having voted on Saturday night to move ahead with the debate, the potential impact of such reform seem clearer than ever. Below are the 5 most likely potential impacts of health reform as proposed in the House:
1. Significant increases in the cost of private insurance: Necessary taxes and additional cost shifting from Medicaid and Medicare will be forced onto those covered by private insurance. The fact that no one in the individual market will be able to be turned down due to pre-existing conditions combined with weak mandate policy will also force private insurance costs to go up.
2. Growth of public option: As employers find the public option is cheaper than providing private insurance for their employees and their families, there will be increased shifting from private insurance onto the public option.
3. Demise of private insurance: As number 2 comes into play and employers move rank and file to public option, combined with lower income people moving onto Medicaid, private insurance will slowly unravel.
4. Reduction to physician fee schedules and income: As the only proven government tool to control costs, this reduced physician pay along with reduction in hospital reimbursement is inevitable.
5. The big question! How does a government that will control 80% of health care spend over time ultimately control costs? Queues? Reduction in availability of drugs and services? Increased cost sharing? More taxes? This is the big unkown and possibly the most dangeruous of the potential impacts.