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U.S. health reform – The cartoon version

Owen Smith's picture

Health Care Reform, by Jonathan GruberIn a landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court today upheld the main provisions of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, including the individual mandate (i.e., everyone must buy health insurance). It represents a major step towards universal coverage for health care in the U.S., something that many countries around the world are striving to achieve.

For those interested in gaining a better understanding of this complex legislation, you can do no better than to start with a graphic novel about the law written by Jonathan Gruber, a professor at MIT and one of the main architects of the Affordable Care Act (and, for that matter, of the Massachusetts health reform that it closely resembles). It’s a great introduction to the policy issues surrounding market failure in health insurance, without having to wade through a dry textbook or World Bank report.

Gruber refers to the individual mandate as part of a “three-legged stool,” along with rules to prevent insurers from denying coverage and subsidies for those who cannot afford insurance, upon which the legislation stands.

In a presentation that I attended earlier this year, Prof. Gruber said that the idea for the book came partly from his teenage son, a graphic novel fan who he was regularly telling to “read a real book,” to which his son replied, “why don’t you write a real book?”

It’s a great reminder that technically-sound, policy-relevant analytical work does not have to be 200 pages of small-font jargon – it can also be made into a fun, interesting read.

 

World Bank and Health Systems/Financing