Friday, November 28th, 2014

Top 5 lies about health care

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats on their way to winning votes on health care reform.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats on their way to winning votes on health care reform.

We've been fact-checking claims about health care for more than a year now, and have noted several distortions that won't seem to die. Here are five that surface again and again. 

1. It bans private insurance in favor of a government-run plan. Opponents have repeatedly said the plan would force Americans off their current plans, even though most current plans would be allowed to continue. Republican House Republican leader John Boehner said that "forcing Americans off of their current health coverage and onto a government-run plan (is) exactly what the Democrats' plan would do." We rated that False.

2. Preventive care saves the whole health care system money. People who favor the plan regularly imply that preventive care will lower its overall cost. While early treatment can save individual patients money, research shows that the benefits don't outweigh the costs of the additional screening procedures. President Barack Obama said preventive care "saves money." We rated that False.

3. Millions of people will lose coverage. Opponents of the plan have argued that millions of people would lose their health insurance. But the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has projected that the proposal would result in insurance for 94 percent of the country. Republican commentator Nancy Pfotenhauer said that "hundreds of millions of people (will) lose their current insurance coverage." We rated that Pants on Fire.

4. The plan will lower health insurance premiums for most people. A few people will see significant reductions in what they pay for health insurance if they qualify for low-income tax credits to buy their policies. But the vast majority of Americans will see no decrease or a very slight decrease in premiums, according to projections. Obama said, "The costs for families (in the individual market) for the same type of coverage that they're currently receiving would go down 14 percent to 20 percent." We rated that Half True. Obama's statement is true only for those in the individual market who are buying comprehensive plans right now. For people buying high-deductible, low-cost plans, the premiums will increase, because they'll have to buy plans that offer more coverage.
5. Bureaucrats will dictate treatment for patients, or tell you what insurance plan you have to buy. The proposal does include new boards to make recommendations on evidence-based treatment. But they won't consider any individual cases or deny procedures for specific patients.  The bill also sets minimum standards for insurance companies, creating a baseline for basic coverage. People will still be able to pick the plan they prefer. We received a chain e-mail that said, "The 'Health Choices Commissioner' will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. None." We rated that Pants on Fire.