What Is Healthcare Reform? And Why Is There So Much Controversy About It These Days?

Julie Kautz MillsWelcome to the NeedyMeds Blog! We are pleased to bring you our inaugural post, and we look forward to presenting you with timely, provocative pieces on healthcare reform, patient advocacy, medication and healthcare access, and other health-related news. Our goals are to educate, enlighten, and elucidate; together, we will try to make sense of the myriad and ongoing healthcare-related changes in the U.S. today

My name is Julie Kautz Mills and I am Director of Outreach at NeedyMeds. My academic background is in bioethics, education and psychology, and I spent 16 years working in healthcare administration in the Boston area. I’ve lived in two Canadian provinces and four European countries, and thus have had the opportunities to experience other healthcare systems.

So what IS healthcare? Is healthcare a right, to be provided for all citizens by government mandate? Or, is it a choice, to be decided by individuals? Who should decide? And who should pay? And what happens if you cannot pay? These are potentially problematic questions, however I think we can all agree that each and every one of us has needed, or will need, healthcare during our lives.



1. the field concerned with the maintenance or restoration of the health  of the body or mind.

2. any of the procedures or methods employed in this field.


3. of, pertaining to, or involved in healthcare: healthcare workers; a healthcare center.

the preservation of mental and physical health by preventing or treating illness through services offered by the health profession

(WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University)

A number of recent studies (Kaiser Health News) have shown that the majority of Americans do not understand healthcare reform, and given the complexity, and the fact that each of the 50 states will have their own healthcare exchanges, this is not surprising news!

At present, there are approximately 50 million uninsured people in the U.S., representing approximately 17% of our population. Many consider this to be a national disgrace. We may be one of the richest nations on the globe, and we may spend the most per capita on healthcare, but overall health indicators, including mortality statistics, show us to be unhealthier as a whole than populations of other countries who spend far less. What is happening here?

Today, we will begin by defining healthcare reform and the Affordable Care Act (or ACA; also referred to as “Obamacare.”).  To begin with, the main objectives of healthcare reform are simple: to improve health and access to healthcare in the U.S. overall and to reign in spiraling healthcare costs by focusing on preventive care and ensuring that the right care is delivered at the right time in the right place.

These objectives seem reasonable, and we could likely all agree, desirable. But, it could be argued the divisive political landscape has led to confusion and probably to proposed solutions that are unnecessarily complex.

Where do we stand today? Our next post will examine how healthcare reform will be achieved looking at both federal and state developments. Stay tuned!

We welcome your feedback and we would love to hear from you! Let us know about your healthcare-related questions and issues and we will do our best to address them. Please post your comments!

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