What Bush Might Say About Health Care In Tonight's State of the Union Address - InformationWeek

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What Bush Might Say About Health Care In Tonight's State of the Union Address

Besides the war in Iraq, another hot-button topic that President Bush is expected to give a lot of attention to tonight in his State of the Union Address, is health care, including its spiraling costs and the coverage that millions of Americans lack.

Besides the war in Iraq, another hot-button topic that President Bush is expected to give a lot of attention to tonight in his State of the Union Address, is health care, including its spiraling costs and the coverage that millions of Americans lack.Washington pundits say President Bush tonight will propose expanding tax-breaks to entice more American workers into opening health savings accounts, which basically allow employees to set aside pre-tax money to pay for health care expenses, including purchasing what's been dubbed as low-premium, high-deductible insurance plans.

Critics say those so-called "consumer-based" health plans are fine for younger or healthier Americans who don't have a lot of medical problems, but not so attractive for the chronically ill, elderly and others who are more likely to have serious medical needs and therefore require more costly tests and treatments that can quickly rack up enormous out-of-pocket expenses.

But let's digress from the arguments about the merits and weaknesses of HSAs and consumer based health plans. There's still a need for Americans to have easier access to information about the quality and cost of health care services from their doctors, hospitals, and other providers, if for any other reason, to be better prepared in making sometimes difficult decisions about their or their family's medical care.

Technology is already starting to help on that front-for instance, through IT-fueled services from vendors like Subimo, which provides tools to health plans and employers that allow their members and employees to go online to view quality and cost information about doctors, hospitals, drug treatments, etc. Those services can help patients and their families become more "educated" consumers of health care, regardless of who's picking up what portion of the tab.

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