Reducing Health Care Costs While Expanding Coverage

I heard an interesting interview on KMUW this morning while driving in to work. They were talking to Kansas Governer Kathleen Sibelius about her health care reform package.

One point she kept making is that providing basic coverage to the uninsured eventually reduces costs for everyone. They are no longer showing up at the expensive ER for everything, and a lot of costly illnesses get prevented by having good regular medical care. This translates into lower insurance premiums. That argument makes a lot of sense, and I wonder why it has taken people so long to realize it. And it also benefits the uninsured, who get better care.

She is also proposing ways to reduce overhead — “paper shuffling” in the system. Apparently 1/3 of the cost of health care is for administration.

On the more mundane side, she is combining several state agencies — including the one to run this new program — into a single health care office in the state government to reduce bureaucracy and expand negotiating power.

And part of the program is encouraging personal responsibility — expanding education programs targeted at both children and adults to encourage healthy lifestyles. She says that will give us healthier citizens down the road, which translates into reduced medical costs.

She plans to pay for it with a $0.50 increase in tobacco taxes. Fitting, somehow.

There’s also an article in the Wichita Eagle.

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