Obama Takes Healthcare Reform to AARP

On that trajectory, health care costs will probably double again — your premiums will probably double again over the next 10 years. They may even go up faster than that. The costs of Medicare are going to keep on rising a lot faster than tax revenues coming in, which means that the trust fund — you’ve got more money going out than is coming in, which makes that more unstable. And we know that if we do nothing we will probably end up seeing more people uninsured.

We’re already seeing 14,000 people lose their health insurance every day — 14,000 people. So the costs of doing nothing are trillions of dollars in costs over the next couple of decades — trillions — not billions, but trillions of dollars in costs, without anybody getting any better care.

So what we’ve said is if we can control health care inflation, how fast costs are going up, then not only can we stabilize the Medicare trust fund, not only can we help save families money on their premiums, but we can actually afford to provide coverage to the people who currently don’t have health care.

Now, here’s the problem, that in order for us to save money, in some cases, we’ve got to spend some money up front. Let me give you some very specific examples. Health care IT: Health care is the only area where you still have to fill out five different forms — when you go into a bank you don’t have to do that. You’ve got an ATM. If you use your credit card, they’ll find you real quick and the billing is real easy — (laughter) — right? But if for some reason you want health care, you fill out pencil and paper — I guess they Xerox it — they give it to somebody else. Sometimes you see their files and it’s all stuffed with papers, and nurses can’t read the doctor’s handwriting.

So for us to set up a system like they have at the Cleveland Clinic that I just visited in Ohio, where every medical record — your privacy is protected, but everything is digitalized; everything — the minute you take a test, it goes to all the doctors and all the specialists that you might end up dealing with. So you end up just having that one test instead of having to then go back to the doctor again and again and again and have a bunch of different tests. Well, that saves money, but you’ve got to get the computer equipment in the first place to do it. So in some cases we’ve got to spend some money on the front-end.

I also think that if we provide coverage for people who don’t have health insurance right now, then they are going to be getting preventive care, they’re going to be getting screenings, and so they don’t end up in the emergency room with really expensive care that all of us are paying for, even though we don’t know it.

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