Friday, January 25, 2008

Blue Cross Proposes Their Own Fix For Uninsured Americans

Earlier this week, Blue Cross released a proposal called "Pathway to Covering America", their own plan to cover 30-35 million of the estimated 47 million uninsured Americans. Blue Cross CEO Scott Serota told reporters that "We believe it's time to act, [and] [w]e're not going to wait for the government to move."

The plan combines ideas to improve general population health, with a focus on shifting to preventive medicine, and tax credits to encourage people to buy coverage.
Blue Cross did not name specific levels for its proposed tax credits but said they would go to low-wage workers in small businesses, people whose health premiums represent a large share of their income, people without access to employer coverage and those who have lost a job.

The association also proposed helping states find and enroll people who are eligible for existing public health insurance programs but are not using them.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association said the tax credits envisioned would cost the U.S. government $50 to $100 billion per year, but the overall proposal also would yield other savings as uninsured people get coverage and cut down, for example, on hospital emergency room costs.
Of significant interest, given recent conversations and posts regarding the FDA and Big Pharma here on the Women's Bioethics Blog, is the Blue Cross proposal to create "an independent institute to back research comparing the effectiveness of new and existing drugs, devices and medical procedures."

I haven't had a chance to read more than the media coverage of the proposal itself, but if you're interested, the BBC has a link to the proposal pdf for download.

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