I can’t say I exactly agree with your critique. The fact is that there will be no direct cost to consumers who do not have to shell out for a co-pay for the selected services. And while the benefit will likely be offset in some way…that is true of almost everything. A tax cut, by your standards, should not really be called a cut!
A few points. First and most important, there is always a cost to consumers – even if there’s no co-pay. Second, as I blogged earlier, the fact that (some of) these articles eventually explained that consumers would pay in the form of higher premiums does not make the phrase “free preventive care” true. It merely explains that the phrase is untrue. Third, reporters should call a tax cut a tax cut just like they should call a subsidy a subsidy. But they should no more say that a subsidy results in “free preventive care” than they should say a tax cut results in “free money.”
Here’s a question for still-skeptical journalists. The federal government is currently sending $250 checks to seniors who enter Medicare’s “donut hole.” Same law. Two different subsidies. If it’s okay to use the phrase “free preventive care” when reporting on one, is it okay to use the phrase “free money” when reporting on the other?