Ardis Hoven, chair-elect of AMA, on health insurance reform

Dr. Hoven told EarthSky that her organization, which consists of more than a quarter million physicians and medical students in the U.S., believes the health care system in the U.S. needs reform.

Ardis Hoven is chair-elect of the American Medical Association. Dr. Hoven will take office as AMA chair in June of 2010. She told EarthSky that her organization, which consists of more than a quarter million physicians and medical students in the U.S., believes the health care system in the U.S. needs reform.

Ardis Hoven: The American Medical Association is working very hard to make sure that health system reform is accomplished for our patients and the dedicated physicians that provide their care. Clearly, in this country, we have 46 million people who are uninsured, and that is unacceptable. The status quo must change.

Dr. Hoven also spoke of the current policy of many insurance companies on pre-existing conditions.

Ardis Hoven: Pre-existing conditions, which prohibit people from getting or purchasing health insurance, or health coverage, is unacceptable in this country. Let’s get some of this regulatory stuff out of the way so that, not only the doctors, but also the patients who fight to get their coverage paid for, get their care paid for. People fighting cancer shouldn’t be fighting the insurance company at the same time.

Dr. Hoven spoke of what she sees as misconceptions about health care today.

Ardis Hoven: Healthcare is very personal. When we begin to hear that something may be taken away from us, or that something else may get in the way of my relationship as a patient to my doctor, I become fearful. That is the sort of myth that we need to get removed. That relationship, that space between the doctor and the patient must be maintained. That is a protected, sacred space. As physicians, we are doing everything that we can do to protect that space.

In late 2009 the U.S. Congress will most likely consider legislation that could significantly change the health care system, which includes patients, insurance providers, and the medical industry. Dr. Hoven spoke more of the changes she’d recommend.

Ardis Hoven: First and foremost, we need to address the universal coverage issue, the 46 million uninsured, in making sure that all Americans have access to quality health care. That is the imperative. We do have to address the cost issue. We need to talk about medical liability reform. And the other part of this is insurance reform. Pre-existing conditions, which prohibit people from getting or purchasing health insurance, or health coverage, is unacceptable in this country.

Jorge Salazar