By KIM BELLARD
We’ve been spending a lot of time these past few years debating healthcare reform. First the Affordable Care Act was debated, passed, implemented, and almost continuously litigated since. Lately the concept of Medicare For All, or variations on it, has been the hot policy debate. Other smaller but still important issues like high prescription drug prices or surprise billing have also received significant attention.
As worthy as these all are, a new study suggests that focusing on them may be missing the point. If we’re not addressing wealth disparities, we’re unlikely to address health disparities.
It has been well documented that there are considerable health disparities in the U.S., attributable to socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, gender, even geography, among other factors. Few would deny that they exist. Many policy experts and politicians seem to believe that if we could simply increase health insurance coverage, we could go a long way to addressing these disparities, since coverage should reduce financial burdens that may be serving as barriers to care that may be contributing to them.
Universal coverage may well be a good goal for many reasons, but we should temper our expectations about what it might achieve in terms of leveling the health playing field.Continue reading…