PolitiFact, the St. Petersburg Times political fact-checking site, just recently posted what they view to be the top facts to know about the proposed health-care reform. They are posted below with further elaboration from me:
- “The plan is not a government takeover of health care like in Canada or Britain.” This is true in the sense that it will not involve the government employing all health-care workers and providing all health-care services. However, it is a giant leap into a more heavily regulated health-care system. Some have viewed it as trojan horse to bring about a “single-payer” (government pays for it) health-care system.
- “Insurance companies will be regulated more heavily.” I have no argument with this one. This further regulation will no doubt lead to rising premiums to cover the costs of the new government impositions. The cost to provide insurance will go up. Remember, if you want less of something, regulate or tax it.
- “Everyone will have to have health insurance or pay a fine, a requirement known as the individual mandate.” This is also true. Leaving the paternalism in such a mandate aside, there is also a strong argument that it is unconstitutional. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=health+care&iid=8281761″ src=”a/8/6/e/Speaker_Pelosi_And_4d9c.jpg?adImageId=11461241&imageId=8281761″ width=”234″ height=”155″ /]
- “Employers will not be required to buy insurance for their employees, but large employers may be subject to fines if they don’t provide insurance.” For “large” employers (more than 50 employees), this would mean added costs to employ individuals. That would potentially mean less employment — something highly undesirable at any time, let alone a time when the jobless rate is still near 10 percent.
- “The vast majority of people will not see significant declines in premiums.” This is definitely true. Consult no. 2 for a reason why.
- “The plan might or might not bend the curve on health spending.” To the extent that the costs for care would be more heavily subsidized, it is true that certain individuals may spend less on health care. But that would just be cost-shifting — making others pay for those individuals’ care. Overall total spending would conceivably rise given that medical devices would be taxed under the plan and regulation would increase.
- “The government-run Medicare program will keep paying medical bills for seniors, but it will begin implementing cost controls on health care providers, mostly through penalties and incentives.” The term “cost control” in this statement may be deceiving. There is a difference between “cost” and “price.” While some type of price controls may be implemented, the real cost of any given health service is not going to lower through Congress simply decreeing it so. Price controls often lead to less supply, longer waits and reduced quality.
- “Medicaid, a joint federal-state program for the poor, will cover all of the poor, instead of just a few groups the way it currently does.” This point would obviously mean greater costs to taxpayers. Politicians may tout it as reduced costs to the individuals receiving the Medicaid benefits, but this would just be another example of cost shifting to others.
- “The government won’t pay for elective abortions.” This one is hotly contested. The intended separation of money from individual premiums and government subsidies is a bit of semantics in that money is often fungible.
- “No one is proposing new benefits for illegal immigrants.” No one in a position to change the bill has included a provision to add new benefits specifically to illegal immigrants.
And one additional claim being made by proponents of the bill since the CBO’s study of it has been that it will reduce the federal deficit. Here is one piece treating that claim with skepticism.