In Anticipation of Universal Health Care Coverage, I Would like Readers to Use Their Imaginations and Fast-Forward to the Day after Much-Heralded Legislation Is Passed by Congress and Signed into Law

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), July 26, 2009 | Go to article overview

In Anticipation of Universal Health Care Coverage, I Would like Readers to Use Their Imaginations and Fast-Forward to the Day after Much-Heralded Legislation Is Passed by Congress and Signed into Law


Byline: Roger Hite For The Register-Guard

In anticipation of universal health care coverage, I would like readers to use their imaginations and fast-forward to the day after much-heralded legislation is passed by Congress and signed into law. Forty-five million people receive a letter from the president of the United States congratulating them on being entitled to a basic health care insurance plan.

Imagine the president saying:

"My fellow Americans, I am pleased to offer you this coverage. It is coming at great expense to our society. It is the right thing for us to do. I am aware it will be an initial challenge for our current system to provide you access to something that is now your entitlement. I ask you to be patient as we roll out the plan. We will do our best to accommodate your individual situation, regardless of where you reside in this country."

Then the president will unveil an unexpected quid pro quo for each government insurance plan enrollee:

"I want each of you new enrollees to realize there is a corresponding responsibility associated with this new federally mandated health care entitlement. Each of you has a one-year period in which to arrange for a visit to a primary care physician. The purpose of this visit will be to formally enroll you in the government sponsored plan. That means you will be asked to provide a health-care history, you will be given a physical examination and you will undergo a series of risk assessment and diagnostic tests so that you can be assigned into one of several risk categories.

"Once you have been assigned a risk category, you will work with the physician to establish an individual health improvement target. It will be your responsibility to work during the second year of your enrollment to participate in a treatment plan aimed at improving your health status.

"There are only two conditions that can cause you to be dropped from this universal health care plan:

"1) If you do not see a primary care physician and establish an individual health improvement target during the first year enrollment period; or

"2) If you fail to participate in the second-year follow-up and ongoing health care assessment and improvement plan created through your first visit to your primary care physician. …

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