North Carolina Justice Center: Myths About Health Reform
Myths About Health Reform
By Adam Linker
Policy Analyst, Health Access Coalition
Aug. 6, 2009
Health reform legislation is a “government takeover”: Industry groups and insurance companies are opposing consumer choice by labeling the public health insurance option as “socialized medicine.” Congressional legislation includes a limited public option available only to some of the uninsured, some small businesses including the self-employed, and people purchasing coverage on the individual market.
Because Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina controls 96.8 percent of the individual market, according to the North Carolina Department of Insurance, a public option will give consumers an additional choice for coverage.
The limited public option offered in the House and Senate means that few will join the plan. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 11 million people might join the House version of a public plan while very few would sign-up for the Senate’s public option.
Health reform will kill your grandmother: Industry groups want to keep consumers confused about how to fill out living wills or assigning power of attorney. Currently, if a patient wants to ask their doctor about these options, the doctor does not get paid for the interaction.
Reform proposals in Congress would reimburse the doctor if a patient wants to talk about these complicated legal documents.
Health reform will ration care: Corporate lobbyists like the way care is currently rationed. Insurance companies can deny needed care to patients because it helps pad their profits. Industries also hire Washington powerbrokers to convince Medicare and insurance companies to pay for dangerous drugs and devices that may do more harm than good to patients.
Health reform legislation provides funding to universities and doctors to conduct research that will ensure that drugs and medical devices on the market actually work. Research will not take into account the cost of the drugs or devices under study.
You will not be able to keep the insurance or doctor you currently have: Groups like Americans for Prosperity want to eliminate the insurance you get at work by fully taxing employer health premiums.
Serious health reform proposals build on the employer-sponsored insurance system currently in place. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that under the Senate legislation the number of people receiving employer insurance coverage would remain unchanged. Under the House legislation, according to the CBO, 3 million more people would get coverage through work.
Health reform legislation will strengthen the employer-based insurance system and provide consumer protections to those who lose their job.
We should leave health care to the free market: Insurance companies drop coverage for people when they get sick. Insurance companies deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or charge them outrageous monthly premiums. Insurers refuse to pay for needed medical care.
After health reform we will still have a free market while providing some basic consumer protections. Insurance companies will no longer be able to turn people away or charge women more than men for coverage. Industry groups use “free market” as a code word for protecting profits.
Insurance companies will make hefty sums even after health reform legislation is enacted, but they will not be able to profit from the suffering of sick patients.