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Glossary of Healthcare Plan Definitions

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Glossary of Healthcare Plan Definitions

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This article lists basic definitions of healthcare plan terms used in the 2009 political debate over policies and issues in connection with President Obama's goal to provide universal health care for all Americans.

Healthcare plan terms are defined in alphabetical order.

Guaranteed Insurance
Means that all Americans would be guaranteed access to healthcare services.

Senate Health, Education & Welfare Committee Chair Ted Kennedy's June 2009 healthcare plan proposal, the Affordable Health Choices Act, would ensure that all Americans are guaranteed "access to affordable and quality health care."

Mandatory Insurance Requirement
Means that all Americans would be required to obtain healthcare insurance coverage for themselves and their dependents.

In 2006, the state of Massachusetts legislated a mandatory healthcare plan, which, in two years, has proven remarkably successful in covering almost all (97%) of state residents of all ages.

Nonprofit Co-op Option
In June 2009, Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-ND) proposed a non-profit, co-op healthcare plan alternative to both public and private sector plans.

Co-op details are being negotiated behind closed Senate doors. Commented Sen. Conrad about the innovative concept that has caught the interest of top Senate Republicans:

"It would be non-profit, that would have the same plans and would be subject to the same standards (as private plans)... That would provide an alternative to for-profit insurance companies, so that there's a different delivery model for competition."

Private Sector Option
Private sector option refers to healthcare insurance plans provided by for-profit insurance corporations such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield, United Healthcare, and Kaiser.

The primary complaint against private sector healthcare insurance is that existing plans exclude tens of millions of Americans due to high costs, narrow coverage of procedures, pre-existing medical conditions, and capriciously selective payment of benefits.

Public Plan Option, Public Option
The public option or public plan option refers to a government health insurance program similar to Medicare, which would be offered as an option to private-sector healthcare plans.

The public option would be open to anyone, like Medicare, would not exclude coverage due to pre-existing medical conditions, and would cover the millions of Americans who have difficulty obtaining healthcare insurance for health or cost reasons.

A public healthcare plan would cost significantly less than plans provided by for-profit corporations, which is why the private sector fears and fights a public plan option. About 60% of physicians favor a public healthcare plan, similar to Medicare, being offered to all Americans.

Per Rasmussen polling on June 15, 2009, 41% 0f American adults agree, and 41% disagree, that "it would be a good idea to set up a government health insurance company to compete with private health insurance companies."

Single Payer System
Refers to only a public plan option being offered to provide healthcare plan coverage for all Americans. All payments to doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers would be made from a single Medicare-like fund

Many progressives and liberals strongly support a single payer system as the only way to fairly provide healthcare to all Americans.

Conservatives unanimously oppose a single payer system, deriding it as "socialized medicine" and "government healthcare." The main reason for conservative opposition is based on ideological suspicion of government-provided services.

Dozens of countries, including Canada, Australia and Taiwan, have successfully used single payer healthcare systems for many years to cover all citizens.

Universal Health Care
Universal health care is a generic term that refers to the provision of a panoply of healthcare services to all citizens or residents of a country.

"Universal health care is implemented in all but one of the wealthy, industrialized countries, with the exception being the United States. It is also provided in many developing countries and is the trend worldwide," per Wikipedia.

As early as January 2007, then-candidate Obama urged that "universal health care for every single American must not be a question of whether. It must be a question of how."

During the '08 presidential campaign, Obama promised that he "will make available a new national health plan to all Americans."

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