NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 12, 2009

In 2008, three researchers decided to cost out the expense of insuring those in America lacking health insurance.  The Health Affairs paper estimates the price tag at $120 billion a year.  The paper is flawed, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD):

  • The cost of health care to the nation's uninsured is assumed to be the same as the average for those who are insured; also, the uninsured tend to be younger and healthier than the rest of the population, and not everyone necessarily needs full coverage.
  • The authors also assumed that it was the government's job to insure all 47 million or so uninsured; some uninsured are illegals and even the president quotes a figure far lower than 47 million.

Even with these generous assumptions, the researchers calculate that insurance for all is $120 billion a year away, says IBD.

On Saturday, with limited debate, the House of Representatives passed health-reform legislation that -- when fully enacted -- will cost roughly $3 trillion over a decade.  That's the CBO estimate, by the way.

Do the back-of-the-napkin calculation -- $120 billion times 10 -- and you draw one conclusion: The House bill is about more than covering the nation's uninsured.  Rather, it's about remaking the nation's health care system, says IBD. 

What's in the package?

  • The bill creates a Health Benefits Advisory Committee empowered with defining and enforcing basic health benefits.
  • At first, the regulations would cover plans in the Health Insurance Exchange and new employer-based coverage, but by 2018, everyone's plan would need to comply with federal standards.

What else?

  • A massive expansion of Medicaid and a raft of subsidies for tens of millions of Americans.
  • Proposals to steer health care decisions with the learned advice of a government committee.
  • A public plan -- modeled after Medicare -- to compete against private insurance.
  • More than 100 new bureaucracies, including a Program of Administrative Simplification.

New entitlements, expanded entitlements, influence on clinical decisions and even an insurance to call its own -- all this would be Washington's role if the House bill sees its way into law, says IBD.

Source: David Gratzer, "The House's Expensive Medicine,", November 11, 2009.

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