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What is the current state of our health care system and where is it headed?

Molly Adams

What’s the state of health care today? And, more importantly to some, where is it headed? Presidential candidates aren’t the only ones on the hook as many Americans ask what’s next?

With us today on “Take Care” is Dan Goldberg. He’s a health care reporter for POLITICO Pro covering health care politics and policy in the U.S.

“We pay our doctors and hospitals a lot more money than other countries do.”

Goldberg says that’s one of the simpler answers to a complex question: Why is health care so expensive in our country? A second factor, he notes, is that Americans spend a lot of money on drugs.

“It’s what we pay. It’s the prices for doctors and for hospitals and for administrators. That level is where the money is going,” Goldberg says.

Health outcomes don’t stack up, though, especially for those in rural areas or those who are not financially stable. Certain areas of the country show much more negative health care outcomes.

“We’re also starting to see the average life span in the United State decline -- in part because of the opioid epidemic. We’re seeing so-called deaths of despair, whether it’s opioids or alcohol,” Goldberg says. “Especially in the middle part of the country.”

Ways to fix it

Value-based care models are just one idea being considered to fix this issue of rising costs and discrepancies in our current health care model. It involves patients paying a set fee for all care received, regardless of how many tests or procedures were performed over a given year and how expensive they were. The doctors and health care providers are then paid not based on how much the care cost, but how healthy their patient remains.

“So there are bonuses or penalties for how a patient does,” Goldberg says.

Another kind of care involves insurance companies setting a price point for certain procedures and doctors and hospitals receiving incentives for staying within the given price point. Goldberg says it’s another way to limit the amount of work being done on a patient.

“And then finally there’s a big movement toward preventive care. Can we keep people well before they get sick?” Goldberg says. Obviously, that’s a difficult task, but one that’s being considered as a way to find some savings.

Three ideas from the Democratic party

Democratic candidates vying for the nomination all want to provide health insurance at a more affordable price to more people, but they believe there are different ways to do that.

Bernie Sanders’ plan is to provide Medicare for all.

“He takes the age of Medicare -- which is right now 65 -- and slowly reduces it down until it covers everyone,” Godlberg says. “It would act as, basically, a government health insurance plan and cover all your health care needs. He would pay for that by raising taxes.”

Other plans have a longer transition period, like Kamala Harris’ plan, in which basic services are covered by the government and other services are still covered by private insurance. Further to the “right” of the Democratic party is a public option “where you’d have the ability to buy into Medicare. You wouldn’t necessarily automatically get it. You’d have to pay something for it, as opposed to raising taxes on everyone,” Goldberg says.

Listen to the full audio of this interview to hear more about how the Affordable Care Act has helped and hurt our health care system, what Americans are looking for when it comes to their own health care, how states are trying to tackle health care discrepancies and rising costs and more.