The new administration is beginning to engage a wide range of groups and individuals in conversation about reforming the American healthcare system. This is a bold and difficult task because of the complexity, cost and diversity of interest, as well as conflicting agendas of consumers, providers, employers and government. The task is made all the more challenging based upon our countrys current economic turmoil.
Every American has a stake in this process because ultimately all Americans pay for healthcare in the various forms of taxes, higher product prices and competition between wages, benefits and, more recently, corporate solvency.
These conversations have so many viewpoints that it is difficult to know where to start, what to solve and how to finance the recommended changes. As lawmakers, lobbyists and interest groups search for the perfect solution that satisfies everyones needs, the crisis in American healthcare will only deepen.
While this process proceeds, it is important not to omit some important topics that influence our health system and health status. Most of these items require that we fundamentally change how we think about what is included in the definition of health and how we approach the responsibility for our own care.
The conversations we must have are about the trade-offs, hard choices and limitations inherent in any reform. The political leadership must let Americans know we cannot have it all and sacrifice will be an essential ingredient for progress.
Consequently, we should engage in meaningful discussion about the following realities: