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The complexities of health care reform

It's generally acknowledged that some type of health care reform is needed, but a proposal Wednesday by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota suggests just how complex a system overhaul is.

It's generally acknowledged that some type of health care reform is needed, but a proposal Wednesday by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota suggests just how complex a system overhaul is.

Blue Cross, in a proposal called Unfinished Business, advocates the state make health insurance a legal requirement for all Minnesotans. Cost estimates of giving coverage to nearly 400,000 uninsuraned residents hover in the $911 million-per-year range, according to an Associated Press report, but Blue Cross officials believe the policy would result in healthier, more productive workers. Part of the logic comes from the presumption that people who are currently uninsured would get the kind of preventative care they need to avoid the more serious illnesses that usually result in more expensive treatment.

Cynics, of course, see a different picture. They may not dispute the benefits of universal coverage, but the prospect of Blue Cross picking up more members -- and therefore, more money -- isn't agreeable (Blue Cross, naturally, denies its proposal has anything to do with prospective financial gain). Others, meanwhile, resent government entities getting involved with health insurance altogether.

Despite any criticism of the Blue Cross plan or other mandatory health coverage proposals, it's clear that keeping the health care system at status quo isn't an option. Premiums and deductibles are increasing, and the costs to businesses and individuals continue to soar. It's not like this is breaking news, either -- but the state can make news if legislators make reform a priority next year.

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