Op-Ed Promotes Individual Health Insurance Coverage Requirement
"With 45 million Americans uninsured, achieving universal access to health care may seem daunting, but it's not impossible," California Medical Association CEO Jack Lewin and Aetna President Ronald Williams write in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. The authors recommend that Congress and state legislatures consider a proposal under debate in California -- an individual-coverage requirement that they maintain "encourages personal responsibility by recognizing that those who can afford health insurance should purchase it" and "acknowledges the social responsibility to subsidize coverage for those who cannot."
According to Lewin and Williams, "If properly structured, an individual-coverage requirement ... would provide access to quality health care," as many more U.S. residents would "benefit from the private-sector health care that most enjoy currently" under employer-sponsored health coverage. "This would foster the adoption of consumer-directed health plans," which would make consumers more aware of health care costs and allow them to make improved decisions about their treatment, the authors write.
In addition, Lewin and Williams write that an individual-coverage requirement would help "ease the financial crisis facing health care," as the "uncompensated costs of services for the uninsured has taken a financial toll on many health care facilities and resulted in cost shifting to those who have insurance." The authors write that "we need more affordable insurance options that increase coverage of low-income workers and reduce the numbers of the uninsured who threaten the viability of ERs, physician practices and the safety net," adding, "Nothing could be more critically important for business and medical professionals in every state to consider" than an individual-coverage requirement (Lewin/Williams, Wall Street Journal, 8/19).