Protect the Sick: Health Insurance Reform in One Easy Lesson



In thinking about how to expand insurance coverage, the issue that matters is whether insurance enables sick and high-risk people to get medical care. Over the course of three decades, market-oriented insurance reforms have shifted more costs of illness onto people who need and use medical care. By making the users of care pay for it (or even some of it), cost-sharing discourages sick people from getting care, even if they have insurance, and for people with low-incomes and tight budgets, cost-sharing can effectively deny them access to care. Thus, covering or not covering sick people is the core issue of health insurance reform, both as a determinant of support and opposition to proposals, and as the proper yardstick for evaluating reform ideas.