Thursday, December 05, 2013

Lets Talk Facts About Health Insurance

There is a good post by Sarah Kliff on the WP Wonkblog about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Most Americans already have health insurance: 49% through their employment, 16% through Medicaid, 13% though Medicare, and 1% through other public programs.

Five percent have individual policies that they have purchased for themselves on the open market; it is a portion of these who are finding their insurance cancelled. As Juan Williams says, it is the companies that have chosen to cancel the policies rather than bring them up to code. I suppose some of the people whose current policies are being cancelled will pay more for the replacements, but they may get more for their money. Others will shop wisely on the exchanges and get comparable coverage at lower cost.

16% of Americans are now uninsured.

17 million Americans are expected to qualify for new tax subsidies under Obamacare.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the number of uninsured will go down by 25 million because of Obamacare by 2023, but 31 million will be left without medical insurance at the end of the decade.

Will the demand for health care services increase? I don't know. Improved access to preventive services will probably reduce the demand for curative (often more expensive) services. Will the 25 million newly insured people actually use more services (especially those receiving tax subsidies) than they would otherwise? Perhaps, but we have social standards that hospitals have to give care to those who need it, whether the patients can pay or not. Moreover, some of those uninsured folk would pay out of pocket for the services that they use. Those currently insured who gain new access to preventive services will probably get sick less often and less seriously, and thus use fewer curative services.

Will the health sector cost more than it would have without Obamacare? I doubt it. The rate of increase in health costs has gone down as a result of Obamacare. If there is an increase in demand for services, which might tend to increase prices, there will also be elements of Obamacare which tend to decrease costs of health services.

Will there be a decrease in the quality of services. I doubt it. The ethics of doctors are strong and they are committed to providing quality services. I believe that some services delivered now are not delivered to achieve medical benefits for the patients, but for the purposes of the provider; some of these will go away. People should feel happy that they are no longer subject to such interventions.

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