Improve Quality & Access – Not Insurance Coverage
Rising health care costs, lack of access, and a pandemic have helped to solidify a belief that health care is, or should be, a right. But this monumental shift from seeing health care as a right rather than a good has failed to provide any favors for those who need better, more accessible medical care. Simply stating health care is a right fails to consider large pieces of our health care system and how to provide quality care. Insurance coverage does not, and will not, ensure better health outcomes.
The United States spends more per person on health care than any other nation. This is primarily due to a system built to treat disease rather than prevent it. There is also evidence that there are significant variations in lengths of hospital stays, specialist visits, procedures, and costs, even within the same towns.
In 2008, a lottery of uninsured low-income adults was compiled in Oregon. The state randomly enrolled just over 6,000 people into Medicaid while another 6,000 were left out. Both groups had similar health and socioeconomic status. However, a year after the two groups were assigned their respective roles, results concluded that being a part of the Medicaid program did not improve outcomes or improve mortality rates compared to those not enrolled in Medicaid.
Solutions should focus on patients not insurance.
Eliminate Certificate of Need Laws
Certificate of Need (CON) laws arrived in West Virginia in the early 1960s after a national push to prioritize care needs and limit health care price inflation. However, CON laws have proven to be costly and decrease the quality of care.
West Virginia ranks as the 5th most regulated CON state, significantly affecting our healthcare system. States with CON laws face $232 higher health care spending per capita, 11.6 fewer rural hospitals and 25.6 fewer total hospitals, 1,461 fewer MRI machines and 5,524 fewer CT scanners, and 14% fewer ambulatory surgery centers.
In a state where 53 of its 55 counties suffer health care shortages, it is imperative to repeal this complicated and regressive regulatory process to achieve a safer and healthier state.
Learn more by watching our video on Certificate of Need here.
Expand Scope of Practice
Nurse practitioners (NP) continue to show their value, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. NPs can reduce physician shortages, an ongoing issue in West Virginia, yet their ability to provide care is still constrained. To prescribe medications, a board and observing physician must give permission to NPs.
This only makes health care access more limited in our rural communities. Nurse practitioners deserve more freedom to practice and use their training.
Learn more here.
Telemedicine is More Affordable
Telemedicine has effectively increased access to care for those whose physical or geographic barriers impose limitations to access. It’s also far more affordable. A study concluded that the average cost of a virtual visit was $50, and an in-person visit costs as much as $176 per visit. So for those who must pay out of pocket, this is a far more affordable option. Additionally, virtual visits can expand past state lines. This increases access to specialists that otherwise would be unavailable for those confined to their homes.
The expansion of telemedicine is an appropriate method to encourage preventative care and deliver high-quality health care to many patients.
Watch our video on telemedicine here.
Espousing that health insurance coverage is an “end all be all” clearly fails to address issues regarding our nation’s health. Reforms should aim to improve quality and not simply provide insurance coverage.
Jessica Dobrinsky is the Policy Development Associate for the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy.