NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

NY Times Doesn't Like Consumer-Driven Health

December 17, 2001

A recent New York Times article skeptical of consumer-driven health care didn't present the facts, according to Greg Scandlen of the NCPA. To make his point, the writer, Milt Freudenheim, used an extremely unlikely scenario and implied it was typical in the story headlined "A New Health Plan May Raise Expenses for Sickest Workers."

  • He supposes a family of three is required to pay $1,150 in premiums for a $5,000 deductible, with an employer-funded "allowance" of $3,000.
  • Prescription drugs in this hypothetical case are not covered and don't apply to meeting the deductible.
  • The family not only incurs medical expenses of $5,000 but also suffers from asthma, high cholesterol, and mental illness severe enough to take Prozac, incurring another $2,484 in expenses without the insurance company paying a penny in benefits.
  • Freudenheim's comparison plan includes a family deductible of only $900, coinsurance of only 10 percent and generous prescription drug benefits, all of which costs the family a mere $300 in annual premiums.

As Scandlen points out, both situations are highly unlikely, but the article uses them as if they are real-life scenarios -- implying this is just one example of the horrendous cost-shifting that employers are using to hoodwink their employees.

However, Scandlen notes other publications provide a more balanced view. The Dallas Morning News ran a story by Patricia Rivera on November 30 about a meeting of the DFW Business Group on Health that attracted 200 people to hear about defined contribution. It quoted a benefits manager from Texas Instruments as saying, "Our company wants to empower our employees to make their own health care decisions..." The article also notes the American Medical Association is supportive of the movement.

Source: Greg Scandlen, "Scandlen's Health Policy Comments," December 10, 2001.

for Dallas Morning News,


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