President Obama has announced the outline of a healthcare reform plan that promises to pick up many of the better – and simpler – ideas and put them into play. Obviously, there will be a lot of wrangling about this. In his speech to Congress on Tuesday night, he made healthcare a top priority this year. It may take longer, of course. The Republicans have already shown themselves to retreating to the tired – and discredited – notion that cutting taxes is the solution to everything. When you don’t have the income, no amount of tax credits will pay for individual coverage. The final bill will, I bet, be along the lines of what was proposed – an open and competitive insurance market where individuals can buy in, with a default to a public program along the lines of what is offered to Congress. There are tax credits for small businesses, and a pay or play choice for larger companies.
What to do: I wouldn’t make any large strategic bets on how the final legislation will look. I would start thinking about the pent up demand, particularly for primary care, which may be unleashed, as happened in
I suspect that employers will still be allowed to pay for all or part of the coverage, as this is still a valuable recruiting and retention tool.
Whatever happens, the changeover will be messy. I have seen the idea floated that a changeover would be rolled out in different sections of the country over 1-3 years.