It may be the longest chain e-mail we've ever received. A page-by-page analysis of the House health care bill argues that reform will end the health care system as we know it: "Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed! ... Page 42: The 'Health Choices Commissioner' will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. ... Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free health care services."
Most of the e-mail's claims are wrong, and you can read our extended analysis to find out why.
But one of the claims is actually true: "All private healthcare plans must conform to government rules to participate in a Healthcare Exchange."
To explain this one, we will start with an explanation of the overall bill, which was unveiled July 14, 2009. The bill envisions that everyone will be required to have health insurance. People who get health insurance through work satisfy this requirement right off the bat.
People who don't get insurance through work or other groups will go to the health care exchange; it's designed to help people who have to go off on their own to buy health insurance, and for small businesses with few employees. The reason for the exchange is that the government wants to regulate insurers to make sure that health plans clearly explain what they offer, can't refuse people for pre-existing conditions, and must offer basic levels of service.
"This is designed to protect consumers from plans that have outrageous cost-sharing or really limited benefits," said Jennifer Tolbert, an independent health care analyst at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan foundation that studies health care reform.
Tolbert has read and analyzed all the major health proposals, including those of the Republicans, and the foundation provides point-by-point analyses of the plans on its Web site.
The exchange is meant to ensure that people are "actually getting coverage and not a junk policy," Tolbert added.
We should note that the e-mail says this rule is listed on page 72 of the health care bill. We found that the requirement that insurance companies must conform is also presented much earlier in the bill. We spotted an earlier reference on page 15, Section 101.
That doesn't change the fact that the assertion is correct. We've ruled that many of the e-mail's other claims are wrong, but not this one. The e-mail said, "All private healthcare plans must conform to government rules to participate in a Healthcare Exchange." We rule that True.
U.S. Government Printing Office, HR 3200 (health care reform legislation), July 14, 2009
Speaker of the House Web site, Section-by-Section Analysis of HR 3200 , July 14, 2009
U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, House Democrats Introduce Bill to Provide Quality, Affordable Health Care for All Americans , July 14, 2009
Interview with Jennifer Tolbert of the Kaiser Family Foundation
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