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During Sunday's interview with George Stephanopoulos, President Obama, while promoting his proposal for an individual mandate that would require every US citizen and legal alien to have health insurance, claimed that the average family is paying "$900, on average -- our families -- in higher premiums because of uncompensated care".  

Health care researchers, however, believe the President is vastly overstating the impact that the uninsured have on the cost of health insurance premiums.

I. Obama's Claim

Here is the relevant portion of the transcript from Sunday's interview:

STEPHANOPOULOS: You were against the individual mandate...

OBAMA: Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ...during the campaign. Under this mandate, the government is forcing people to spend money, fining you if you don’t. How is that not a tax?

OBAMA: Well, hold on a second, George. Here -- here's what's happening. You and I are both paying $900, on average -- our families -- in higher premiums because of uncompensated care. Now what I've said is that if you can't afford health insurance, you certainly shouldn't be punished for that. That's just piling on. If, on the other hand, we're giving tax credits, we've set up an exchange, you are now part of a big pool, we've driven down the costs, we've done everything we can and you actually can afford health insurance, but you've just decided, you know what, I want to take my chances. And then you get hit by a bus and you and I have to pay for the emergency room care, that's...

This is not the first time the President has made a similar claim. On June 11 of this year, Obama stated the average premium cost of uncompensated care was $1000:

"The average family pays a thousand dollars in extra premiums to pay for people going to the emergency room who don’t have health insurance. So you’re already subsidizing other folks; it’s just you’re subsidizing the most expensive care."

The President also repeated his $1000 claim during his September health care speech before a Joint Session of Congress:

"Those of us with health insurance are also paying a hidden and growing tax for those without it – about $1,000 per year that pays for somebody else’s emergency room and charitable care."

II. Obama's Source

According to Factcheck.org, President Obama is relying on a 2005 study from Families USA to support his claim(s) about the costs of uncompensated care:

Do insured families really pay $1,000 in extra premiums to carry the uninsured? The figure doesn’t come from thin air. A 2005 report by health care advocacy group Families USA found that this "cost shifting" amounted to $922 per family or $341 for those insured individually, and a May 2009 update revised those numbers to $1,017 and $368 respectively.

Wikipedia describes Families USA as "a progressive American non-profit consumer health-care advocacy organization" and "influential health-care lobbyist in Washington, D.C." Families USA was founded by former Clinton Administration appointee Ron Pollack, and was named by the Hill newspaper as "one of the top twelve lobbyists on health insurance issues".

III. Obama's Numbers Disputed

While President Obama has repeatedly cited a number in the range of $1000 as the extra cost in premiums that the average US family pays because of uncompensated care, other research groups believe that the premium cost figure is significantly lower.

[T]he claim is disputed. A 2008 report conducted by researchers from the Urban Institute for the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation examined the first Families USA study, and found its claims to be unconvincing....

Jack Hadley, the lead researcher on the KFF study, told us that to assume that the insured end up paying for all uncompensated care is "clearly an exaggeration." According to KFF, the amount of uncompensated care that providers could shift to the privately insured is much less, only $8 billion, not the $42.7 billion Families USA said could be passed on to premium payers in 2008. The KFF number is less than 19 percent of Families USA’s, and by our figuring that implies a per-family increase in health insurance premiums of less than $200 a year, not $1,000.

According to the KFF study, President Obama is inflating the premium costs of uncompensated care by approximately a factor of five to support his argument that we need an individual Health Insurance Mandate.

IV. Obama previously acknowledged the inaccuracy...

Some might be tempted to write off this discrepancy between the two studies as simply the actuarial version of he-said she-said - with no one really able to say which amount of money ($900-$1000 vs. less than $200) is actually correct.

Except....

After criticism of his June 11 speech in which he first used the $1000 figure as the cost to premiums from uncompensated care, the President, four days later at the AMA conference, stated that the $1000 per family figure is reflected not just in premiums, but overall in "higher taxes, higher premiums and higher health care costs".

Each time an uninsured American steps foot into an emergency room with no way to reimburse the hospital for care, the cost is handed over to every American family as a bill of about $1,000 that’s reflected in higher taxes, higher premiums and higher health care costs."

The change in Obama's language is significant, because it is acknowledgment that the cost of the uninsured is not directly the cause of a $900 or $ 1000 jump in premiums for the average American, but is simply the overall cost to the entire system when calculated per family.

V. ...yet continues to tout the high premium number anyway.

Despite this previous acknowledgment that the $1000 per family is actually the systemic cost, and not just the cost to premiums, the President continues as late as today to imply that an insurance mandate will save us $900 to $1000 on an average family's health premiums, even while the average savings on those premiums is actually less than $200 per family.

And even that $200 may be pushing it.  According to the KFF study:

[W]e are highly skeptical that the high and growing cost of private insurance is strongly related, if at all, to the amount of uncompensated care delivered by private providers or to the growing number of uninsured people."

...

Given that total private health insurance expenditures in 2008 are estimated to be $829.9 billion (from NHEA projections), the amount potentially associated with cost-shifting represents less than one percent of private health insurance costs. Even if all private funding for uncompensated care were recouped from private insurance payments, this would still amount to only 1.7% of private insurance premiums.

So before any of you folks who are lucky enough to have health insurance start thinking that President Obama has suddenly morphed into the Geico Gecko, and believe that his proposal for an individual health insurance mandate is going to personally save you hundreds of dollars on your health insurance premiums - you may want to check the fine print.

Previous essays in this series:  Dump the Health Insurance Mandate

x post: Docudharma

Update:  After crunching some numbers (thanks pragprogress and nickrud below), it appears that in exchange for President Obama's plan to require a Health Insurance individual mandate and to give billions upon billions of dollars tax payer subsidies every year to private insurers, policy holders will see a reduction in their premiums of, at most, 1/2 of 1%.

Congratulations everyone! Go buy yourselves a cup of coffee.

Originally posted to Night Owl on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 08:13 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (14+ / 0-)

    "The Owl that Calls upon the Night, Speaks the Unbeliever's Fright." - William Blake

    by Night Owl on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 08:13:33 PM PDT

  •  Are you a puma? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gooners, Knarfc

    Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives. John Stuart Mill

    by Micheline on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 08:17:05 PM PDT

    •  why would a puma be against the mandate? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Night Owl, kyril, Yoshi En Son, in2mixin

      Woah, slow down there maestro. There's a *New* Mexico?

      by gooners on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 08:18:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm a Night Owl. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico, kyril, Knarfc, eXtina

      What are you?

      "The Owl that Calls upon the Night, Speaks the Unbeliever's Fright." - William Blake

      by Night Owl on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 08:20:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hillary was for mandates during the (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Night Owl, lrhoke, pragprogress, kyril

      primary.  Why would a puma slam Obama for switching his position to hers?

      If your comment is mean, I might have Sarah Palin sue you.

      by in2mixin on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 08:20:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I ask because of the way the person framed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bush Bites

        his/her diary title.

        Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives. John Stuart Mill

        by Micheline on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 08:22:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You mean, asking a question? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Night Owl, dkmich, yaque

          That's just a strange comment.  Can we have a conversation without casting aspersions on the diarist based on what you think is the tone of the title?

          Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

          by pico on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 10:02:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  He said Obama was misleading... (0+ / 0-)

            ..rather than misinformed.

            That is obvious.

            www.governmentisgood.com

            by Bush Bites on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 01:10:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  What does that have to do with Puma, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Night Owl, dkmich

              rather than 'Republican', 'right-wing', or whatever other epithet people like to throw out to prevent intelligent conversation from taking place?

              Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

              by pico on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 01:17:55 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I don't know. (0+ / 0-)

                I just agree with the commenter than the framing of the issue does arouse suspicion of the diarist's motivations.

                Too bad, too, because he might have some good points, but I just can't get past his biases to look more closely.

                www.governmentisgood.com

                by Bush Bites on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 01:21:52 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Meh. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Night Owl, Bill W, dkmich

                  To dismiss an informative diary out of hand because of a suspicion of framing - and to leave nothing but a dismissive comment along those lines - strikes me as a far worse problem than the diarist's possibly having less than charitable motivations.  Not to mention that the rest of the people who disagreed with the diarist listed their disagreements, and got responses, and responded to those, etc.  

                  I'm just developing a really short fuse with the one-line "You sound like a Republican/Puma/winger" comments.

                  Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                  by pico on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 02:31:53 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I am developing a short fuse for those (0+ / 0-)

                    who are not cognizant as to how they frame their questions or issues in a way that doesn't give the other side talking points. I far from think Obama is perfect but I won't say anything that will give the other side talking points that's just stupid.

                    Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives. John Stuart Mill

                    by Micheline on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 03:57:57 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Sweet, so maybe we can reduce the discussion (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Night Owl, tnproud2b

                      down to whether the information in a diary boils down to talking points that you approve of, and then we won't have to bother with things like critical thinking and intelligent conversation.  And the best part is, you don't have to leave more than a single sentence approving of or casting aspersions on diaries that probably took a good hour to put together.  Cheers!

                      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                      by pico on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 04:47:38 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  There's nothing wrong with critiquing Obama (0+ / 0-)

                        but that could be done in a constructive and smart manner. Implying that he's a liar is not imho constructive.

                        Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives. John Stuart Mill

                        by Micheline on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 07:17:25 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                •  My motivations... (0+ / 0-)

                  are based on what is the best, most Progressive policy for this country.  Just because your political lens is personality focused doesn't mean the rest of us see the world so myopically.

                  Bottom line: Individual mandates suck no matter who is selling them.  They sucked when Clinton and Ira Magaziner tried to foist them on us in the early 90's, and they suck even more now.

                  "The Owl that Calls upon the Night, Speaks the Unbeliever's Fright." - William Blake

                  by Night Owl on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 08:26:50 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Oh my, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Night Owl

              Obama would never tell a lie, no never.  He wouldn't deliberately mislead anyone about getting out of Iraq, holding torturers accountable, renegotiating NAFTA, repealing the Bush tax cuts, or passing real health care reform instead of an industry giveaway.

              "YES WE CAN" doesn't mean he is going to. ~~Daily Show

              by dkmich on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 03:11:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Funny... (0+ / 0-)

          I thought the tone of my title was rather restrained considering the circumstances.

          "The Owl that Calls upon the Night, Speaks the Unbeliever's Fright." - William Blake

          by Night Owl on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 01:23:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Not to mention... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassiodorus, kyril

        Obama's numbers come from a lobby shop run by a FoB.

        "The Owl that Calls upon the Night, Speaks the Unbeliever's Fright." - William Blake

        by Night Owl on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 08:32:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Actually she was for them while Obama was not, so (0+ / 0-)

        i am not sure if this guy is puma or just a bobcat:-)

        Don't give a damn a/t each & every politician currently alive in the US. Last time i voted for the top part of the ballot was 1972. Never missed SB election

        by Mutual Assured Destruction on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 09:45:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  fuck you (0+ / 0-)

      he provides facts and you reply with an ad hominem

  •  Great work (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Night Owl, dkmich, kyril, eXtina, yaque

    Even if we did assume the $1000, what percentage of unreimbursed medical care really goes to people who could've afforded health insurance. I'd venture to say that a very thin slice, in which case we'll still be paying for that medical care, except now we'll pay for it by subsidizing premiums.

    •  1.7% of your premium (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassiodorus, kyril, dharmasyd, eXtina

      what percentage of unreimbursed medical care really goes to people who could've afforded health insurance

      at most is the result of uncompensated care.  The real figure is probably less than 1%.

      "The Owl that Calls upon the Night, Speaks the Unbeliever's Fright." - William Blake

      by Night Owl on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 08:51:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But what I'm saying is that (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Night Owl, kyril, eXtina

        even if unreimbursed medical care is 1.7% of your premiums, the percent that actually went for the care of those who actually could've afforded health insurance is probably way lower. You're talking about only those who are too poor to pay in cash if something does happen, and those who were affluent enough to be able to afford a policy. I'd wager that this is a very small group of generally pretty healthy people who very rarely exact a cost from the system.

        The vast majority of unreimbursed medical care is provided to those who could never have afforded health insurance in the first place. Under the new plan, yes, they will have insurance but "we" (in Obama's expansive definition of we that includes not only premiums, but also taxes) will still be paying for it, except through subsidies instead of premiums. That's not even to mention that nearly half (12 millions) of those who are uninsured because they are too poor to buy insurance are illegal immigrants, who will presumably still be getting unreimbursed care because they will be excluded from the mandate.

        •  Gotcha. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pragprogress, kyril, eXtina

          Still looking for the definitive study on what we'll call the "Yuppie Free Rider", but I can tell you that 2/3 of all uninsured have incomes below 200% of the poverty line, which right off the bat reduces that top 1.7% figure down to somewhere around .6%.

          Bottom line, despite what the President would have us believe, Yuppie Free Riders are not the reason we have skyrocketing Health insurance premiums.

          "The Owl that Calls upon the Night, Speaks the Unbeliever's Fright." - William Blake

          by Night Owl on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 09:18:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Because they don't exist (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Night Owl, eXtina

            Not in any serious numbers. People who make enough to afford health insurance while not being rich enough to self-insure generally arrange this by working for a decent company. With benefits. Including health insurance. Which they buy, because it's stupid not to.

            And yes, some are self-employed, and would be able to afford health insurance under a system where they couldn't be discriminated against. These aren't "freeloaders", though. They're in the same boat as those charged exorbitant premiums for preexisting conditions - they can't afford it despite their income because the cost is higher for them than for others.

          •  Yeah, .6% percent (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Night Owl

            as compared to the 30% the private insurance takes off the top for dividends, CEO salaries, and unnecessary administrative costs.

          •  Here's some numbers for you to work with (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Night Owl

            A substantial number of individuals with incomes that could afford insurance don't buy it. http://www.census.gov/...

            •  Thanks for that. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              pragprogress, Lady Libertine

              According to these figures, in 2008, 16.6% of uninsured individual adults (over 15) made over $50k, (which I would think is a good cut off point for the type people the President seems to be talking about)

              The percentage doubles (33.2% ) if we include those who made over $25k - which gives us support for the 1/3 number we've been working with.

              Remember too, that the undercompensated health costs associated with higher income individuals tend to be less because they can pay more out of pocket, have healthier lifestyles, and are often younger.  So while the may make up 1/3 of the people without health insurance, they probably have less of an impact on premiums.

              Even so, if we stick with the maximum hard numbers we have we're still only talking a 1.7% x 33.2% = .56%

              So, to sum up:

              We 're gonna be giving the insurance companies billions upon billions of dollars for a one half of one percent cut in insurance premiums.

              "The Owl that Calls upon the Night, Speaks the Unbeliever's Fright." - William Blake

              by Night Owl on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 10:35:21 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  The uninsured I know that had to go to ER (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Night Owl, good grief

          paid for it themselves with a payment plan.

          I always think of that when people talk about how the uninsured can be treated in ER as though it is free care. I know some can't/don't pay but they will be billed, they will go to collections if they don't pay, they will be dunned, they can be forced into bankruptcy...it is not a free ride.

          Ride...reminds me of the most surprising ER story. Right after college my son had a cycling accident in Monterey. He tried self care and sleeping it off but went to ER in the morning. He was there over two hours. They examined him, took shoulder x-rays, cleaned up massive abrasions on his back, bandaged him, gave him a sling and some medication, a sheet of exercises to do and instructions of when to start doing them and increase them. They even demonstrated the exercises. (It was a dislocation)
          When he called and told me all this he had an appointment with their financial person to work out payments. He didn't have the bill yet but figured it would be about $1,000. I thought he was dreaming, ER is expensive....but I figured there was no point in scaring him.
          We were both dreaming. The bill was just over $400 and they arranged for $60 per month, telling him if that turned out to be burdensome just to call and they can change it. What a nice surprise. Maybe they had some funding for the uninsured and just charged them less. The others I know paid much more for much shorter treatment. They were not as warm and fuzzy working out the payment plan either.

          •  That's right (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Night Owl, joynow

            That's why I say again, that the cost of unreimbursed medical care that could be saved through the mandate has to take into account both those who have no insurance but do pay their bill, as well as the cost of subsidizing premiums for those who can't afford insurance.

            I can't believe that there's much "there" there.

          •  This was most certainly subsidized somewhere (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Night Owl, joynow

            the ER portion of my broken jaw in Texas was over 1,500; and that was basically lying in a bed in a corridor for the 20 hrs it took to get to an operating room.

  •  Rec'd and tipped (6+ / 0-)

    is it up at Docudharma?

    "The old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear." -- Gramsci

    by Cassiodorus on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 08:54:04 PM PDT

  •  What the? -Uncompensated Care=Illegal Immigrants? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, eXtina

    Why is Obama handing the Right Wing Radio flunkies a READY-MADE TALKING POINT????

  •  Exactly what I was wondering after Obama (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Night Owl, kyril

    mowed down Stephanopoulos claiming it was a tax - how much does it cost us?
    And the 'hit by a bus' portion of that must add up to fractions of a cent.
    The problem with the argument is that even if it does add $200 or $900 to premiums, that does not automatically lead to mandates as the solution. Others, like a public opiton, would take care of this problem just as well, with the added benefit of not being a gift to insurance companies.

    •  Actually, getting hit by a bus.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eXtina

      the 'hit by a bus' portion of that must add up to fractions of a cent.

      would most likely get paid under the bus company or municipality's liability coverage anyway, so even that part of Obama's story isn't true.

      The problem with the argument is that even if it does add $200 or $900 to premiums, that does not automatically lead to mandates as the solution. Others, like a public opiton, would take care of this problem just as well, with the added benefit of not being a gift to insurance companies.

      That's exactly right.

      "The Owl that Calls upon the Night, Speaks the Unbeliever's Fright." - William Blake

      by Night Owl on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 11:56:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So What? (0+ / 0-)

    before any of you folks who are lucky enough to have health insurance... believe that his proposal for an individual health insurance mandate is going to personally save you hundreds of dollars on your health insurance premiums - you may want to check the fine print.

    So what if it doesn't save them money -- if it provides everyone in the nation the health care they need?

    ____________________ Only the small secrets need to be protected. The big ones are kept secret by public incredulity. -- Marshall McCluhan

    by Pluto on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 09:12:21 PM PDT

    •  But it won't, Pluto. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dkmich, Pluto, radmul, Lady Libertine

      The entire for-profit health care system is simply unsustainable, and only can only stay afloat if the government throws massive amounts of cash at the insurers under the pretext of this free rider red herring.  When those subsidies eventually dry up (and they will) a universal, for profit system completely falls apart - as it's doing right now.

      We get exponentially more bang for our public buck by investing that mandate money in a universal public system that we already know can provide a sustainable model for affordable, preventative health care that people will want to buy.

      This individual mandate is just a way to con people into supporting a massive, institutionalize bailout of the Health insurance companies that add less than zero to any Health Care transaction.

      Check out my previous diary for more on this.

      "The Owl that Calls upon the Night, Speaks the Unbeliever's Fright." - William Blake

      by Night Owl on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 09:33:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep. You're Right (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Night Owl

        I was taking issue with the argument, but at the heart of the matter, I believe you are right.

        ____________________ Only the small secrets need to be protected. The big ones are kept secret by public incredulity. -- Marshall McCluhan

        by Pluto on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 11:18:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Much needed information (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Night Owl

    you're putting out in this series.  Thx!

    "The Future of Man" [... ???] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

    by dharmasyd on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 09:15:17 PM PDT

  •  James Carville (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Night Owl, sawgrass727, jdl51

    once said the only person in politics with a mandate was Jim McGreevey.

  •  Insurance reforms without mandates will kill h/c (3+ / 0-)

    Think of a broad pool.  Now if you add the insurance reforms, the insurance industry will add a bunch of sick people who can't get healthcare to the mix.  That will raise EVERYONE's premiums while they are covered.  If you have a mandate and EVERYONE is required to buy health insurance, then the pool is bigger and the amount that is raised is minimized over a larger pool.

    Now, before people start going Mass. on this.  Mass. Health Care has low subsidies for everyone somewhere between 200-300%.  Even the Baucus bill has 300% subsidies.  Though, Snowe, HELP and House bills want 400% subsidies.  That's even better.  

    As for this diary, are you telling me that Families USA, an advocacy group that's run by progressives, and fighting for a public option is giving out faulty information?  Is that what you're implying?

    •  Actually. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tnproud2b

      Now if you add the insurance reforms, the insurance industry will add a bunch of sick people who can't get healthcare to the mix.  That will raise EVERYONE's premiums while they are covered

      You'll notice if you read the the diary, that the impact of the uninsured on premiums is no more than 1.7% of premium costs.

      are you telling me that Families USA, an advocacy group that's run by progressives, and fighting for a public option is giving out faulty information?  Is that what you're implying?

      Yes. Their methodology is completely faulty, as even Obama himself admits.

      "The Owl that Calls upon the Night, Speaks the Unbeliever's Fright." - William Blake

      by Night Owl on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 09:37:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You don't know health insurance companies (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buddabelly, Jane Lew

        Blue Cross Blue Shield, I believe is threatening a 33% rate hike because of the insurance reforms.  They're sending letters to customers on that.  Now, it could be a fake threat meant to gin up opposition to reform, but that's pretty serious.

        •  I actually do know Health Insurance companies, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          radmul, Jane Lew

          quite well as a matter of fact.

          They're scum who are trying to make you think the reason they're jacking up your rates is because they have to to cover everyone.

          They are lying to you.

          "The Owl that Calls upon the Night, Speaks the Unbeliever's Fright." - William Blake

          by Night Owl on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 09:42:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Regardless you're playing with fire (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            buddabelly, IndianaDemocrat

            There's two groups of thought on the issue.  It's possible you could be right, and it's possible I could be right.  Mass. Health Care has mandates and has reforms, and still has a 69% approval rating in the state.  I'm not saying it's perfect.  Nothing is.  But, I strongly believe that on a public policy decision, mandates are needed.  You have different thoughts.  I don't want to risk whether you're wrong.

            •  You rather risk billions of taxpayer dollars.. (0+ / 0-)

              on a giant bailout of private health insurance company profits?

              For Romney Care?

              Surely we can do better.

              "The Owl that Calls upon the Night, Speaks the Unbeliever's Fright." - William Blake

              by Night Owl on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 09:47:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Ah, there's the point (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                itskevin, buddabelly, a night owl

                I would prefer a public option added into the mix, I think it's critical, but not necessary to get a good bill.

                I think that if you don't have an option which affects only 5% of the American population and a 1/4 of the uninsured, it's not the center of healthcare reform.  

                Having a large amount of subsidies (400% would be great), killing the free rider provision and replacing that with a employer mandate, individual mandate, insurance reforms, community ratings, the robust exchanges that are included in the Baucus bill, and if you have a triggered public option that's instructions are written by progressives, and giving authority to the President without any further act of Congress, that if it's goals aren't met, the President can establish that public option.  I can't say no to this bill.

                Your point in "bailing out insurance companies" is hyperbole, in my view.  There's two ways to think with voting for a bill without a public option.  You can vote against it on the grounds that you refuse to give insurance companies any money.  That's your view, that's fine.  OR, you could vote for the bill and getting everyone health insurance to those who need it or want it, that's a goal we've been fighting for decades for.  

                •  It is a bailout. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Jane Lew

                  Your point in "bailing out insurance companies" is hyperbole, in my view.

                  We are currently planning on plowing billions of dollars into a for-profit system that is five or six time less efficient than a public system, all to sustain the obscene profit margins of companies that, through greed and bad faith, deliver the worst health care outcomes in the developed world.

                  Answer me this: once the insurers get their subsidies, what's to keep them from still jacking up premiums by the same amount or more?  What in your tossed salad of reforms that you say makes an acceptable bill prevents that?

                  "The Owl that Calls upon the Night, Speaks the Unbeliever's Fright." - William Blake

                  by Night Owl on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 10:05:04 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The exchanges and having competition will (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    buddabelly

                    The public option would have helped but only at the margins.  150 bn in a 2.1 trillion dollar system (is a very small amount).

                    •  Competition? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Jane Lew

                      In a notoriously collusive and consolidated industry that also just happens to be exempt from anti trust law?

                      And with or without a neutered public option that is specifically designed to fail?

                      Right. Can't wait for those big premium cuts.

                      150 bn in a 2.1 trillion dollar system (is a very small amount).

                      And you think that 'very small amount' of impact is simply the product of invisible market forces and not because the game is puposefully rigged against a true and universal PO?

                      "The Owl that Calls upon the Night, Speaks the Unbeliever's Fright." - William Blake

                      by Night Owl on Sun Sep 20, 2009 at 11:27:18 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  People in Mass. are happy (0+ / 0-)

                        Like I showed, 69% of the population like their healthcare.  The problem is unfortunately, the costs.  But if you can keep people from paying a lot, hence the difference between the mass plan of 200-300% subsidies and 400% subsidies in the HElP and House bills, then people can have affordable coverage.

                        •  Just wait until the subsidies dry up next year (0+ / 0-)

                          In March 2008 the Boston Globe reported that some "safety-net" hospitals serving low-income individuals in urban areas were facing budget shortfalls due to the combination of reduced "free-care" payments from the state and low enrollment in Commonwealth Care. The reduced state payments anticipated that by reducing the number of uninsured people Commonwealth Care would reduce the amount of charity care provided by hospitals.[45] In a subsequent story that same month the Globe reported that Commonwealth Care faced a short-term funding gap of $100 million and the need to obtain a new three-year funding commitment from the federal government of $1.5 billion. The Globe reported that a number of alternatives were under consideration for raising additional funding, including a $1 per pack increase in the state's cigarette tax. Health care costs in the state were rising at an annual rate of 10 percent, and the state budget deficit was $1.3 billion.[

                          As the Mass experiment is clearly showing, regardless of subsidies, you can not have a viable for profit health care system unless you have some real way control costs.  (

                          Cost rose 10% in MA last year, so now, on top of all of the money they are already throwing at the insurers, MA is talking about even more taxes and begging for even more Federal money to feed this ever hungrier monkey.

                          It's madness.

                          "The Owl that Calls upon the Night, Speaks the Unbeliever's Fright." - William Blake

                          by Night Owl on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 12:25:54 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

    •  If we get Obama's bipartisan bill, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Night Owl, tnproud2b

      I hope it does fail.  If what he's passing is so great, why is he waiting until 2012 - after re-election?    

      What Obama is supporting is another taxpayer boondoggle, like not being able to negotiate with pharma.  No price constraints, only promises and a mandate.  This pile will have his name all over it.

      "YES WE CAN" doesn't mean he is going to. ~~Daily Show

      by dkmich on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 03:19:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Then who pays for uncompensated care? (0+ / 0-)

    www.governmentisgood.com

    by Bush Bites on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 01:06:57 AM PDT

  •  From what I read here, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Night Owl

    Obama would have been accurate if he'd said:

    You and I are both paying $900, on average -- our families -- in higher premiums because of uncompensated care.

    I know that every year our county and the state have HUGE fights over who is responsible for picking up the tab on the uncompensated care our urban hospitals provide. The argument from the county's perspective is  that these costs should be spread to the whole state instead of falling mostly on the property taxes of our mostly urban county - another way we cripple our cities with the financial burdens of our society.

    Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by NLinStPaul on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 05:35:03 AM PDT

    •  That's sort of accurate... (0+ / 0-)

      since any extra costs are passed down eventually to consumers in the form of higher taxes, fewer services etc.

      What this argument ignores, however, is that the cost to the system for uncompensated care is about 3% of the total, whereas the cost of having our private insurers as middlemen to every health care transaction is 20% in measured costs and much more than that in unmeasured costs associated from the way the for profit system emphasis on fee for service distorts and exacerbates market inefficiencies.

      IOW, your hospitals could absorb at least six times the number of uncompensated costs from uninsured people and still not make up for the drain on the system that for profit insurers impose.

      "The Owl that Calls upon the Night, Speaks the Unbeliever's Fright." - William Blake

      by Night Owl on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 08:14:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  1/2 of 1% premium reduction really? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Night Owl

    I haven't read the related comments, but my take is private insurers are going to jack up rates immediately to compensate for any lowering of thier top line profits due to any bill.

    I actually support mandates is we get real reform with a real public option. But if we end up with the hateful Baucus plan, which is an insurers wet dream, then screw it. I'll be done with supporting this administration.

    Q: What do you call 500 Congress-slugs at the bottom of the ocean? A: Divine intervention. (with apologies to the couple dozen honest ones.)

    by CitizenOfEarth on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 06:08:03 AM PDT

    •  1/2 of 1% (0+ / 0-)

      is the extra amount that the insured spend onp premiums because of the people Obama is talking about.

      Whether you'd actually see even that reduction in your premium would depend on the tender mercies of the for profit health insurance insustry.

      I actually support mandates is we get real reform with a real public option.

      If you had real reform with a real public option you wouldn't need mandates because the price of insurance would become affordable and the benefits would be so good almost everyone would want to sign up.

      "The Owl that Calls upon the Night, Speaks the Unbeliever's Fright." - William Blake

      by Night Owl on Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 07:59:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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