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MarketWatch’s refreshing take on health-reform myths

MarketWatch’s Kristen Gerencher evenhandedly tries to knock down five major myths about health-care reform, two of which caught my eye because they keep surfacing in recent conversations and interviews with pro and con observers: 

“The bills do nothing to address out-of-control cost growth.”

“The bills are too big, and changes should be tackled one by one instead of all at the same time.”

Two of the so-called “five biggest myths” on MarketWatch’s list are the usual ones: Reform would lead to a rationing of health care and to a government takeover of health care. The other myth, which should please the Tea Partiers, deals with a claim frequently espoused by President Obama: “If you like your health insurance you can keep it.”

Three wonks analyze the myths: Henry Aaron, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; Len Nichols, health economist and director of the New America Foundation’s health policy program, and Stephen Zuckerman, a health economist at the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center.

Here’s a sampling of comments:

Out-of-control cost growth. “The single biggest myth is that no one is thinking about cost-growth containment. In fact, most of us think about little else.” — Len Nichols.

Nichols cites the efforts to change payment incentives through Medicare and to account for regional diversity, an issue near and dear to Minnesota’s congressional delegation and health-care providers who are said to deliver higher-quality care for seniors for less than counterparts in other states.

Monster bills. Gerencher: “While this year’s attempt is ambitious, people who decry the scope of the bills underestimate how many moving parts need to work in unison to achieve the desired results, Nichols said. …

“For example, health insurers would be newly required to accept all comers regardless of their preexisting conditions in exchange for a new requirement that individuals have coverage or face financial penalties.”

Keeping existing insurance. Gerencher: “President Obama touted this idea early and often as he campaigned to overhaul the system, but can he deliver on that promise? Many experts speculate that it would work out that way but caution that it’s not guaranteed, especially since the two bills assess the potential problem differently. While people wouldn’t be forced to change what they have, employers may decide for them if they wager they’d be better served to drop coverage and let their workers shop for policies in the new insurance marketplaces the bills envision.”

Worthwhile reading. Check it out.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 12/17/2009 - 11:20 am.

    Cost control WOULD be addressed by a Medicare-for-All type national health plan that eliminates the $400 billion annual cost to cover the insurance industry’s administrative expenses. Several million denial experts’ salaries, lobbying, advertising/marketing, gigantic executive salaries and bonuses, et cetera, are all paid for with dollars the industry collects as premiums.

    This is the issue the Congress and administration refuse to address when they say the current system is “American” and we must keep on with “what works.” (Works for whom???)

    Keeping Existing Insurance should also read: Forces you to keep insurance that does not meet your needs and/or costs more every year without adding a centavo of value.

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