There was good news last week for President Obama. The Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – may not be the train wreck that critics have painted it since being signed into law over three years ago.
Last week, The New York Times reported that individuals buying health insurance on their own will pay significantly lower insurance premiums next year in New York and many other states. Supporters of the new health care law credited the drop in rates to the online purchasing exchanges the law created, which they say are spurring competition among insurers that are anticipating an influx of new customers.
This is great news for the President, no doubt. It’s evidence that the ACA can hold previously rising premiums in check.
But let’s not take our eye off the ball here. To me, this is further evidence that the ACA addresses insurance reform as much as it does health care reform, perhaps even more so. The law accomplished one really important thing: it recognized that universal access to healthcare is critically important. But it ignores three out of the four essential pillars of meaningful health reform. Those four pillars are: (1) create value in the system, (2) cover everyone, (3) coordinate care, and (4) promote prevention and wellness. The ACA addresses only the second pillar.
What’s missing from meaningful healthcare reform at the national level is a deeper understanding of the true drivers of waste, error and uneven quality. In the coming years, we must focus on building all four pillars of health reform.
That’s the story I’m waiting to see.