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Health Care

How Can We Bring Costs Down While Getting the Care We Need?

Mary Engal

24 pages
National Issues Forums Institute

High health-care costs affect all Americans, often in deeply personal ways. This guide is designed to help people deliberate together about how we should approach the issue. It suggests three options for deliberation, along with the trade-offs each might involve. Each option presents advantages as well as downsides. Each raises questions for which there are no easy answers.

  • If we create a single government program to pay for everyone's health care, would taxes rise and quality suffer?
  • Can gradual reforms hold costs down and still get everybody covered?
  • Should we take responsibility for our own choices in a more transparent and competitive marketplace even if that means those who make poor decisions will suffer the consequences?

Improving the US health-care system routinely presents choices between holding the line on enormous costs, covering more people, and maintaining the choices and quality of care Americans deserve. Which should be our priority?

About National Issues Forum

The National Issues Forums (NIF) is a network of organizations that brings together citizens around the nation to talk about pressing social and political issues of the day. Thousands of community organizations, including schools, libraries, churches, civic groups, and others, have sponsored forums designed to give people a public voice in the affairs of their communities and their nation. For more information about NIF and for additional publications, see NIF’s website at www.nifi.org.

Author Bio
Mary Engel is a writer for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Before that, she worked for more than 20 years as an editorial writer and a reporter for newspapers in California, Alaska and New Mexico. Her editorials were part of a 2005 Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times series on mismanagement, malpractice and racial injustice at a public hospital. Originally from North Little Rock Arkansas, she graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., and was a 2005-2006 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT.