The March Continues

Consumer driven health care was the issue of the week, beginning on Monday with a conference in Washington co-sponsored by 14 organizations, including the Galen Institute, which further defined and energized the movement toward consumer empowerment.

The Fortis Health Foundation sponsored the conference, ?Toward Affordable Health Care,? and The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes expertly moderated panels on consumer-choice options, individual tax credits for health insurance, the importance of technological innovation, the challenges of over-regulation of the marketplace, and the need to end lawsuit abuse.

Interactive technology allowed the audience to register its views, with overwhelming majorities predicting that consumer driven health care will be the next major innovation in the health care marketplace.

For a brief summary of the day, please see the event report by Galen’s Joe Moser. Or you can watch the full video of the conference and read the transcript at the website of the very capable organizers of the conference, the Public Forum Institute.

******* Then this morning, I spoke at a conference of the American Academy of Ophthalmology at the Mayflower Hotel on tax credits for the uninsured – juxtaposed against a physician advocating Medicare expansion for the uninsured.

While there are a few diehards, physicians and consumers have too much experience with government-controlled systems to believe that is the salvation of the health care system. ?What if we had one payer and they cut our reimbursement by 5%?? asked fellow panelist, Dr. Steven Kamenetzky.

The bottom line: The tidal wave is coming. A recent Health Affairs web exclusive by Jon Gabel et al estimated that about 1.5 million Americans were in consumer-driven plans last year. ?Many health plans and benefit consultants, however, see consumer-driven plans accounting for 20 percent of the market by 2005 and as much as 50 percent by 2007, ? he writes.

******* And finally, the profession of journalism is poorer today for loss of one of its best reporters and columnists. Michael Kelly, 46, was killed today while traveling with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq. It is so very sad to lose this wonderful voice of reason who gave up his editor’s desks at The Atlantic Monthly and the National Journal to witness the unfolding story of the war firsthand as one of 600 embedded reporters. Here’s the Washington Post article about the far-too premature death of this most gifted observer of American political life and father of two young boys.

Please continue to pray for the safety of our courageous troops, the journalists covering the war, and the Iraqi people.

Grace-Marie Turner

Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute, a not-for-profit research organization focusing on ideas to promote free-market health reform. She can be reached at P.O. Box 19080, Alexandria, VA, 22320.

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