Sunday, October 24, 2010

Health Care Costs: A Reality

The NY Times today crafted an editorial on the truth in health care. Their argument is simply that the Republican are distorting the truth and failing to state the realities.

The Times states:

Health care reform has already brought substantial benefits, mostly starting in late September. Insurers are now barred from dropping coverage after a beneficiary becomes sick. Dependents can stay on their parents’ policies until age 26. Insurers must cover preventive services and annual checkups without cost-sharing. Lifetime limits on how much insurance plans will pay for treatment are gone.

Let us simply disentangle this statement. They state which is true that the new law expands health care to include:

1. no dropping a benefit after an illness
2. dependents stay on till 26
3. preventive services and annual check ups cost nothing
4. lifetime limits gone

Now we are led to believe that these are costless editions to health care. Not true. They add substantial costs. Admittedly not dropping sick people is a moral as well as economic issue but it has a cost. Paying for children will cost since if they are still hanging around someone must bear the burden. The cost less checkups are quite costly indeed and often do not achieve the savings desired. The smoker still smokes and the obese person still has that bag of snickers. There is no incentive on the patient to remedy what is often a self controlled source of bad health. As for lifetime limits, that has a cost, but it is akin to an umbrella policy, perhaps we could have chosen that and paid out of pocket.

The Times continues:

The major benefits start in 2014, when tens of millions of the uninsured will gain coverage through Medicaid or by buying private coverage — with government help for low- and middle-income Americans — on the new competitive exchanges. If you lose your job, you will no longer lose access to insurance. And with government help the coverage should be affordable.

Far too few Democrats are explaining this on the campaign trail. The barrage of attack ads are hard to push back against. But the voters need to know that health care reform will give all Americans real security.

Indeed the initial costs may be small and yes indeed in 2014 the tsunami in costs will hit full force. Yet so too will the Government control of health care, the CCE mandates and the home mandates. Does the Time believe that we are that stupid to believe that when we more than double Medicaid that the cost will be zero! It will be massive and the demand may very well crush the system, burdened with millions of other changes at the same time.

It is not that the Democrats are not explaining it is that the Republicans have not fully expressed the disaster in the making.