Archives for the month of: October, 2012

An economic perspective for the benefits of universal coverage for the United States.

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Costs of U.S. health care….

Women's Wellness Watch

Way back when I was a graduate student teaching Women’s Studies classes to undergraduates, one of my favorite texts to assign was Joni Seager’s Atlas of Women in the World. Seager uses maps and charts to illustrate persistent gender disparities around the globe. Her illustrations always made a big impression on students in a way that a journal article just couldn’t do.

Infographics are a great way of communicating complex information, allowing the viewer to  make comparisons and see details in a way that is, well, more graphic, than using text alone. So I was excited to learn about the Visualizing Health Policy series (see above), produced by the  Journal of American Medicine in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The New York Times often presents information this way, and it’s one of my favorite features. Whether it’s  mapping happiness or reporting census data,  infographics are fun to…

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Last night was the first presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. One of the main topics that captured my attention, of course, was their individual opinions about the health care system.

As watching the debate, I was amazed at how both candidates pulled exact numbers and percentages in order to support their arguments. The followings are few of the fact checks that I have read from FactCheck.org and POLITICO that I thought was necessary to point out especially in regards to the future health systems. The FactCheck.org is a project of Annenberg Public Policy Center of University of Pennsylvania. This organization is a nonpartisan and a nonprofit organization in which their goals are to “reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” POLITICO is an American political journalism located in Arlington, VA. They have sponsored both Republican and Democratic Presidential candidate debates.

  • Health care premiums – President Barack Obama over-exaggerated the success of his health care law. “…. health care premiums have “gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years.” That’s true of health care spending, but not premiums. And the health care law had little to do with the slowdown in overall spending.” –Factcheck.org
  1. One of the main concerns about the Affordable Health Care law is the price. Factcheck.org agrees with the President that it is true that health care spending has been steady but not health care premiums. The premiums have increased 1 to 3 percent last year due to “more generous coverage requirements.” The President did acknowledge that the premiums have increased steadily however, the employer-sponsored family premiums have fluctuated from 4 percent in 2011 and 2012, and increased 9 percent the year before –Kaiser Family Foundation. Therefore, it was incorrect to suggest that Obamacare slowed health care premiums “any time in the last 50 years.” As factcheck.org states, the growth rate “…was sitting around 5 percent from 2007 to 2009.”
  • Obama: The Republican Medicare plan “would cost the average senior about $6,000 a year.” – POLITICO
  1. The estimated cost the President suggest comes from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities which is a liberal think thank. They had estimated that “the plan would shift nearly $6,400 in costs to seniors. But that plan had a hard limit on how much could be spent on Medicare each year — and Romney’s campaign says his plan has no such limit.” Governor Mitt Romney argues that he plans to bring the cost down by bringing competition among the private plans. – POLITICO
  • Romney claimed a new board established by the Affordable Care Act is “going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have.” Not true. The board only recommends cost-saving measures for Medicare, and is legally forbidden to ration care or reduce benefits. –Factcheck.org
  1. An analysis of Governor Mitt Romney’s claim that the new board established by ACA will essentially tell the people which treatments a patient can receive. However, factcheck.org concluded that this statement can not be true. According to the law, board members are not allow to restrict the care that a patient can receive. Also, the new government board can not dictate nor ration certain medical treatments. However, “It could make some binding recommendations about such things as what drugs or medical devices would be paid for by Medicare, but it has no legal power to dictate treatment or ration care.”

What’s officially called the Independent Payment Advisory Board, made up of appointed health care experts, medical professionals, and consumer representatives, would make binding recommendations to reduce the growth of spending. Congress could override them with a three-fifths majority in each house. – FactCheck.org

  • Romney: “Pre-existing conditions are covered under my [health care] plan.” – POLITICO
  1.  Mitt Romney’s health plan covers individual with pre-existing conditions who have already maintained a continuous coverage. Romney’s advisers states that Mitt Romney will expand those protections to individuals and “go beyond the current law.” However, as POLITICO points out, “Coverage can be expensive for people with pre-existing conditions, and he hasn’t said how he would make sure they don’t get charged premiums they can’t afford.” –POLITICO

More information and analysis on Medicare spending can be read here.

Also, check out the “Implementation Timeline” created by the Kaiser Family Foundation. It is an interactive timeline which gives you an idea of the past, present, and the future implementation of the health care law.

A Guide to the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act Decision” by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

An article from The Heritage Foundation, “Medicaid Expansion Will Become More Costly to States,” explains that the Medicaid program should be reformed. Since the passing of the Affordable Health Care Law, the states “may choose to expand their Medicaid populations to include individuals below 138 percent of the federal poverty level….” The Heritage Foundation suggests that this is attractive to the states but it is only a temporary relief. Using the Heritage Health Insurance Microsimulation Model, they created similar scenarios to estimate costs and expenses in result to the ACA. There are several graphs and data interpretations in this article.

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As presidential election nears, it is important to understand and to consider both views. It is also valuable to be open minded and to research the facts instead of believing everything that is said.

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