Thursday, August 13, 2009

Health Care Lies That Are Deceiving the Public

I've read in a few places how the lies being spread in the media and elsewhere about Health Care reform are distorting the public's perception of the issue and making it difficult to have a rational debate. So I've put together a quick list of lies I've come across:

1. There are 46 million uninsured Americans.

See here and here for a serious debunking of this dubious statistic.

2. These plans are only for a "Public Option", not for single payer

President Obama has been quite eloquent in explaining away this myth.

3. You will get to keep your current insurance even if this reform bill is passed

This is one of those sorta, kinda technically true statements. Sure, there's nothing in the bill that I'm aware of that forces you to drop your current insurance plan. But in reality, millions of Americans who get their insurance through their work will find their employers dropping their plans. So it's not really truthful to say you'll get to keep your current plan if you so choose.

4. We need more government involvement because our current free market system is failing.

Hard to say we've got a free market system when government programs Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP pay for 47% of health care in this country.

5. The reform bill includes measures for preventive care, which will drastically reduce overall health care costs.

Not according to the Congressional Budget Office, which quotes a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine which says,
"Sweeping statements about the cost-saving potential of prevention ... are overreaching. Studies have concluded that preventing illness can in some cases save money but in other cases can add to health care costs. For example, screening costs will exceed the savings from avoided treatment in cases in which only a very small fraction of the population would have become ill in the absence of preventive measures. Preventive measures that do not save money may or may not represent cost-effective care (i.e., good value for the resources expended). Whether any preventive measure saves money or is a reasonable investment despite adding to costs depends entirely on the particular intervention and the specific population in question.

Although some preventive measures do save money, the vast majority reviewed in the health economics literature do not."
6. The initial cost projections are at $1 Trillion over the first ten years, but don't worry, the president assures us it will be paid for and won't add to the deficit.

Hmmmm...where have we heard that before?


Charles D said...

1. Many more millions of Americans are underinsured and would be wiped out financially if they needed extensive care. Many more millions are insured with companies that will drop them like a hot potato if they start really needing coverage.
2. Obama has not only not even tried for single payer, he isn't even serious about a public option. He is merely making speeches to give you hope while letting the same old lobbyists for the industry write a bill that will be so bad it will kill any attempt at health care reform for another 20 years.
3. Yes, that might be true. If the current incentives for employers to provide coverage are cut, that 46 million uninsured number will look like the good old days.
4. The 47% of the health care system that is paid by the government is working fine. It's the other 53% that is a flop.
5. That one is probably true. The enormous cost of our health care system isn't really a function of inadequate preventive care or inadequate medical record systems, it's because we aren't paying for medical care, we're paying for marketing, duplicated administrative costs, elaborate rationing systems to restrict and deny care, fat executive comp packages and shareholder revenue. None of those things contribute anything to the quality or quantity of actual health care. Doing away with them would save a lot more money than giving free annual checkups to everyone.

There are plenty of lies on both sides here. The biggest problem is that the entire "debate" is a charade. The Dems have no intention of enacting a bill that will substantially alter the status quo of our health care delivery system or the way we pay for it. They are working hand in hand with the industry to concoct a plan that will give them political cover but will be so restrictive and so tied to the insurance industry that it will be doomed to failure. The Republicans have no plan other than to reap any and all political benefits they can from attacking the Democrats.

Cameron said...

1. Try reading the link, then let's chat

2. Please. It's in his own words, as well as that of other leadership.

3. It's absolutely true, and President Obama is lying every time he says differently.

4. It's the 47% gov't portion that's screwing it up for the rest of us.

5. Doing away with private insurance won't do away with the things you list.

Anonymous said...

I work in the insurance industry.

There is a massive need for reform.

My wife and I have worked with cancer patients, many of whom are dropped when they become 'expensive.'

My mother-in-law is more afraid of her private insurance because they actually do kill old people.

Sorry guys, random claims of 'liar' and eloquent rhetoric do not change the basic fact that we are in another AIG-like situation.

Change is required.

Cameron said...

I've worked in a cancer center as a patient financial advocate. At no time was any patient dropped because they became too expensive during treatment. In fact, we had a number of patients without insurance who were treated anyway. Either they were set up on a long term payment plan with monthly payments as low as $10, or the bill was simply written off.

No one was denied treatment - ever.