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Health Policy and a Pint is an information source for members of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) and anyone interested in health policy to discuss current topics in health policy over a glass of their favorite beverage in a fun and relaxing environment. We will be recommending articles monthly for your group to take to a bar, a park or anywhere you want to promote active and lively discussion. If you get fired up by what you read, we'll also give you the info to do something about it. So check back monthly, post your thoughts and raise a glass to your health!

Monday, August 17, 2009

August Topic: Health Care and American Values

Brett AS. “American Values” – A Smoke Screen in the Debate on Healthcare Reform. N Engl J Med 2009;361:440-441.


In the past couple of months, many arguments have been raised for or against different health reform proposals. As Dr. Brett notes, much of the rhetoric revolves around notions of “American Values” with a number of assumptions about what those values are. In this article, Dr Brett explores some of these assumptions and discusses why they are often misleading and erroneous.

Possible discussion topics:

1. What do you feel are true American Values in relation to healthcare reform? How would you propose to incorporate those into a reformed healthcare system?

2. Dr. Brett says “suppose that ‘freedom to choose’ is indeed the paramount American value relevant to healthcare.” He explores what “choice” might mean in this context. What does it mean to you? What sort of “freedom of choice” do you feel is appropriate in healthcare reform? How can that be achieved?

3. The article describes the desired goal of healthcare reform as being “efficient, cost-effective healthcare.” What does this mean? How can it best be achieved?

4. Do you feel patients should have the freedom to choose whatever tests or treatments they want? If so, how should they be paid for? If not, how should they be rationed?

5. What type of reform do you feel will help support the values you believe should exist in a healthcare system?

What you can do:

Call your representatives in Congress and tell them what you, as a future physician, feel are the important components of healthcare reform. Enter your voting zip code at http://www.capwiz.com/ams/dbq/officials/ and get their contact information!

Want more information on Health Care Reform? Check out ReformsKool! A weekly newsletter on Health Care Reform background, catch phrases, current issues and much more!

1 comment:

Ashley McWilliams said...

First and foremost, I admire that this author has the audacity to question the phrasing that opponents of health care reform present in their arguments of a health care system based on "American values".

1. As the author stated, American values is the concept of equal opportunity for all. I think the availability of means and non-discriminating options open to all Americans or residents of the US embodies that idea. Even the idea of respecting individualism (i.e. those who elect to not have coverage under any accommodations) is an American ideal that the healthcare reform might consider incorporating. While i disagree with someone who makes the case for not obtaining affordable healthcare, I will respect their unique belief.

2.I agree with his description of choice and provided an explanation of the idea of freedom of choice.

3. The idea of cost effective, efficient healthcare system garners my support. I ponder if copayment, deductible, and premium obligations should be modified according to an individual's income. If so, would there be disparities in the types of services covered because different financial amounts might enable some services to be subsidized by the insurance coverage and others not to fall in that category.

4. I think patients ought to be able to have certain tests done for them if they provide a reasonable explanation as determined by a physician operating under the guidelines of a policy-making oversight agency. For example, I believe people should be able to request and receive an assortment of allergy tests particularly if they underwent anaphylatic shock when exposed to one type of allergen. Thereby, they could know what other allergens adversely affect their system.

5. A system that incorporates affordability, accessibility, prevention, effective management of chronic diseases, and elimination of health disparities is what we need.