Health Care Reform Primer for Pre Med Students

‘”I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.”

– President Obama in his address to congress last night

Health care reform is dominating the American public discourse currently, and with good reason. As future physicians, you have a responsibility to understand these issues. It will affect how you practice medicine in the future.

But where to start? A couple months back, I felt overwhelmed at the thought of unraveling this whole debate. It seemed far too complex for me to understand. My lack of understanding led me to fear taking a position.

That changed several weeks ago when I started to do a little research. What I found is that the issue is not as hard to comprehend as I originally thought. What I’ve prepared here is a series of articles that answer the most common questions regarding the health care system and efforts to reform it.

  • First check out this article titled “Your Handy Health Care Cheat Sheet” over at the Washington Post. ,
    • Alec MacGills says“ What follows is an attempt to boil the health-care debate down to 1,000 words — a summary you can take to the beach or on the plane or, if you already know it all, send to your Aunt Millie. Love the proposals or hate them, people can try to make sense of them. There is no excuse!”
  • A lot of misinformation is being spread about health care reform. You may have received a chain email with comments regarding “A few highlights from the first 500 pages of the Healthcare bill.” Check out’s article regarding the false claims in the email.
    • “Our inbox has been overrun with messages asking us to weigh in on a mammoth list of claims about the House health care bill. The chain e-mail purports to give "a few highlights" from the first half of the bill, but the list of 48 assertions is filled with falsehoods, exaggerations and misinterpretations. We examined each of the e-mail’s claims, finding 26 of them to be false and 18 to be misleading, only partly true or half true. Only four are accurate.”
  • The Wall Street Journal opinion section has a good article outlining some alternatives to the reforms proposed. "”How to Insure Every American"
    • “We must stop punishing Americans who buy their own plan by forcing them to purchase their care with after-tax dollars, making it at least one-third more expensive than employer-provided care. Individuals should be able to take their employer’s plan, or turn it down and select insurance of their own choosing without any tax penalty.”
  • For the official government site regarding reform, check out In particular read the Reports section. Lots to read, but lots of good info as well.


  • I highly recommend watching or reading President’ Obama’s speech last night. Watch the video here or read the full text. Just don’t read the youtube comments. Ugh.
    • “You see, our predecessors understood that government could not, and should not, solve every problem. They understood that there are instances when the gains in security from government action are not worth the added constraints on our freedom. But they also understood that the danger of too much government is matched by the perils of too little; that without the leavening hand of wise policy, markets can crash, monopolies can stifle competition, and the vulnerable can be exploited. And they knew that when any government measure, no matter how carefully crafted or beneficial, is subject to scorn; when any efforts to help people in need are attacked as un-American; when facts and reason are thrown overboard and only timidity passes for wisdom; and we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter — that at that point we don’t merely lose our capacity to solve big challenges. We lose something essential about ourselves.”

Yes, health care in this country is complex. But with a little effort you can start to understand it. Pre meds have the added motivation knowing that questions regarding reform are going to be asked in a medical school interview. But if that’s the only reason you want to learn about health care reform,  you should question why you’re going into medicine in the first place.

7 thoughts on “Health Care Reform Primer for Pre Med Students”

  1. Nice primer! Health policy is such a convoluted and complex subject that I have given up trying to keep it all straight for the time being. Before I started med school, I was very active in educating myself about the ins and outs of it all, but now that I have a billion drugs to memorize for pharmacology, I can’t quite seem to find the motivation to keep as well-informed on the subject as I once was, though I still like to be up to date on news and the like. For anyone who’s interested in a humorous take on the health policy debate, I recommend a blog by one of my favorite bloggers of all time. Check it out: Ah Yes, Health Policy

  2. Thanks! I imagine it’s difficult to keep up on things outside of med school. Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out

  3. Excellent advice for the premedical student. As an advisor, I encourage all premedical students to become familiar with health care issues, reform, and policy. I know it can seem overwhelming but the above post offers a good start. As a medical school admissions committee member, I can also tell you that interviewers often ask questions about health care issues. Here’s a link to an article I wrote about how to prepare for these questions during the medical school interview:

    Samir Desai, M.D.
    Assistant Professor of Medicine
    Baylor College of Medicine

  4. kbot: I am going to assume you are asinkg, why help people who can not help themselves and were born with disabilities, not of their own choosing .*If you have to ask, then there is really no hope for you. I can only hope you are personally adversely impacted by one of these diseases and have to rely on others. Only then will you understand their lives and know why they need our help.*Normally I would not wish that on anyone, but someone like you needs to know what it is like.

  5. when you help people who as you say can not help thsmeelves you are making them dependant. but when you dont help them they are FORCED to help thsmeelves. and then and only then can god help them. i dont know how many 40-50 year old dependant personality types i have seen over the years but it has got to be at least 1000. and none of them were handicapped. they just didnt know how to do a damn thing for thsmeelves. its disgusting. and you are enabling them STOP ENABLING THEM!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *