At more than 2,500 pages and 500,000 words long, the new health care law — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — is the most significant transformation of the American health care system since Medicare and Medicaid.

The law’s complexity has created confusion, frustration, false expectations, and conflicts about its coverage and impact. The incisive report below, written by Cato Institute senior fellow Michael D. Tanner, provides an authoritative and deeply revealing explanation of its provisions.

The diagnosis: the law is bad medicine. It is likely to make Americans less healthy, less prosperous, less able to direct their own health care decisions, and places huge burdens on our economy and already massive national debt. It is now certain that the debate over health care reform will be with us for much longer.

A free version of “Bad Medicine” is below.