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October 28, 1992

Medical News & Perspectives

JAMA. 1992;268(16):2139-2145. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490160009001

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'Basic Benefits' Have Many Variations, Tend to Become Political Issues  IT IS FASHIONABLE to throw the term "basic benefits" around as a given in health care reform debate.But basic benefits are like the basic black dress. Agreement that major areas like maternity must be covered, and that rhinoplasty is as inappropriate as rhinestones hardly limits just how things can be stitched together.Several basic benefits plans and proposals exist. Some states have implemented bare-bones plans for small businesses, with limited results.Many other basic benefits proposals have been put forth by interested organizations as part of larger scale reform; some are more generous, but are often only rough sketches. The trend in legislation, and in the two leading presidential candidates' proposals, is to call for some kind of commission to establish a basic benefits package after the legislation is passed.

Clinical vs Political  Determining what constitutes basic benefits "should