A Wall Street Journal article points to a Congressional Budget Office study which finds Harry Reid's health care bill will boost premiums for individual buyers.
We have now reached the stage of the health-care debate when all that matters is getting a bill passed, so all news is good news, more subsidies mean lower deficits, and more expensive insurance is really cheaper insurance. The nonpolitical mind reels.
Consider how Washington received the Congressional Budget Office's study Monday of how Harry Reid's Senate bill will affect insurance costs, which by any rational measure ought to have been a disaster for the bill. CBO found that premiums in the individual market will rise by 10% to 13% more than if Congress did nothing. Family policies under the status quo are projected to cost $13,100 on average, but under ObamaCare will jump to $15,200.
"No Big Cost Rise in U.S. Premiums Is Seen in Study," said the New York Times, while the Washington Post declared, "Senate Health Bill Gets a Boost." The White House crowed that the CBO report was "more good news about what reform will mean for families struggling to keep up with skyrocketing premiums under the broken status quo."
The Wall Street Journal didn't provide a link to the article but it was easy enough to find. Curiously, in spite of the title "No Big Cost Rise in U.S. Premiums Is Seen in Study" the New York Times piece does admit that the bill in Congress will raise the costs of individual buyer premiums. But Congress and the Gray Lady pretend that since taxpayers will fund the higher costs that individual purchasers won't really pay higher prices. Um, at least some individual health insurance purchasers do pay substantial amounts of taxes, right?
Before taking account of federal subsidies to help people buy insurance on their own, the budget office said the bill would tend to drive up premiums. But as a result of the subsidies, it said, most people in the individual insurance market would see their costs decline, compared with the costs expected under current law. The subsidies, a main feature of the bill, would cost the government nearly $450 billion in the next 10 years and would cover nearly two-thirds of premiums for people who receive them.
So if you are self-employed, buying your own health insurance, and you are not going to qualify for the subsidy then your health insurance premiums are going to go up even faster.
Senate Republicans say that it is unlikely that Congress would follow through on many of the cost-saving measures included in the bill and that the projections are therefore misleading. Democrats say the budget office does not give them any credit for many provisions, like new prevention and wellness programs that they believe will potentially save billions of dollars but that cannot be attributed directly to the budget.
Savings from prevention and wellness programs are pretty bogus. Most people are pretty immune to dietary and exercise advice. Most of what gets labeled as preventive medicine amounts to early diagnosis. That can cut costs. But I doubt the savings will be large. Electronic medical records aren't saving money where they are used.
One of the proposed savings for this bill is a reduction of Medicare pay-outs to doctors. This same proposed savings was used to pay some of the costs of the Medicare drug benefit which George W. Bush signed into law. Congress claims the pretend saving and at the same time does not pass legislation to achieve that saving. Why? Because too many doctors would stop seeing Medicare patients if the payment for seeing them goes down too far.
What I continue to find most amazing about this new health care bill: The United States is alreadly deeply in debt and going deeper. We are on an unsustainable path before adding yet another spending program to the pile. Yet the people in Congress are like train operators throwing coal on a steam engine as the train approaches a bridge that is out. Congress is going to spend us into another financial crisis. I think it is unavoidable.
Here's a list of talking points about the Senate plan from the Senate Republicans:
You can read the whole plan yourself or just look up the page numbers mentioned above. Judge for yourself.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2009 December 02 08:33 PM Economics Health|