Policy Analysis No. 643

Halfway to Where? Answering the Key Questions of Health Care Reform

Although neither the House nor the Senate passed a health care bill by President Obama’s August deadline, various pieces of legislation have made it through committee, and they provide a concrete basis for analyzing what the proposed health care reform would and would not do. Looking at the various bills that are moving on Capitol Hill, we can determine the following:

  • Contrary to the Obama administration’s repeated assurances, millions of Americans who are happy with their current health insurance will not be able to keep it. As many as 89.5 million people may be dumped into a government-run plan.
  • Some Americans may find themselves forced into a new insurance plan that no longer includes their current doctor.
  • Americans will pay more than $820 billion in additional taxes over the next 10 years, and could see their insurance premiums rise as much as 95 percent.
  • The current health care bills will increase the budget deficit by at least $239 billion over the next 10 years, and far more in the years beyond that. If the new health care entitlement were subject to the same 75-year actuarial standards as Social Security or Medicare, its unfunded liabilities would exceed $9.2 trillion.
  • While the bills contain no direct provisions for rationing care, they nonetheless increase the likelihood of government rationing and interference with how doctors practice medicine.
  • Contrary to assertions of some opponents, the bills contain no provision for euthanasia or mandatory end-of-life counseling. The bills’ provisions on abortion coverage are far murkier.

In short, Americans will pay more and get less. Whatever the variation, however these bills are merged or compromised, this would be bad news for Americans.

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Michael D. Tanner is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute and coauthor of Healthy Competition: What’s Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It (second edition, 2005).