Affordable Access — Not Just Coverage

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By Carroll G. Robinson, Contributing Writer

There is a fundamental problem with the debate over healthcare reform in Washington, D.C.; the debate has been focused on increasing health insurance coverage as a proxy for affordable access as opposed to a debate focused on direct access to quality, affordable prevention, wellness, healthcare services and prescription drugs.

As we now know, having health insurance does not ensure access to affordable, quality healthcare services.

iStock_83363285_LARGEAffordable health insurance is not the same thing as affordable access to quality healthcare services, especially for poor, low income, working and middle class Americans when co-payments for doctor visits, visits to specialists, prescription drugs and medicinal expenses not covered by health insurance policies are included.

The D.C. healthcare debate is not fully factoring in all the money being spent by cities and counties on healthcare facilities, personnel and services. Those are funds beyond what is being spent by the states.

Why is it that with all the advances in healthcare technology, decoding the human genome, gene therapy, precision medicine and education technology, the cost of medical school and healthcare services are still so expensive and continually increasing?

Healthcare reform in D.C. has to focus on more than just health insurance coverage.

Fixing the healthcare system has to focus more on reducing the cost of medical education, prescription drugs and healthcare services, as opposed to the current focus on making health insurance companies richer.  Americans need increased affordable access to quality healthcare, wellness and prevention services.

In other words, people need access to a primary care doctor, specialists or surgery in a reasonable period of time. Currently, wait times to see a doctor are too long.

People need affordable co-payments, prescription drug prices and medical care services. To help get that done, medical school has got to be made more affordable. Why? It may help drive down the cost of medicine because new doctors won’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt.

The most important thing we need to fix our healthcare system is a mindset that focuses on affordable access rather than on simply increasing health insurance coverage.

Carroll G. Robinson is a former At-Large Houston City Council Member.  He is an Associate Professor at Texas Southern University, a Citizen Member of the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund and served on the Advisory Board of K9s4COPS. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the National League of Cities and the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC).

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