Facts wrong in ‘Obamacare’ op-ed

To the editor:Bad research usually leads to bad conclusions. The recent “Obamacare” op-ed of Peter Angerhofer of the Josiah Bartlett Center (“Costly ‘Obamacare’ is a sucker’s game,” Dec. 17-30 NHBR) is a prime example.Mr. Angerhofer attacks the health-care reform bill for cutting Medicare reimbursements, but Mr. Angerhofer simply has his facts wrong. The health-care reform bill did not cut Medicare reimbursements to doctors and hospitals. Instead, it cut government subsidies to private health insurers that offer products similar to Medicare. You would expect the Bartlett Center, which supports free enterprise, to applaud the elimination of a huge government subsidy.Mr. Angerhofer claimed that health-care reform is causing many companies to drop their health insurance plan for their employees. Once again, he has his facts wrong.The issue is that some companies, such as McDonald’s and Home Depot, do not offer full health insurance to their hourly employees. Instead, they offer “mini-med” policies that offer reduced coverage at reduced premiums. Health-care reform requires that 80 percent to 85 percent of health insurance premiums be used to pay for actual medical expenses, rather than overhead. The goal is to reduce outsized executive compensation. The “mini-med” plans can’t meet the new standard because they have higher overhead costs due to high employee turnover.The health-care reform bill anticipated this issue, and allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services to grant waivers. So far, over 200 companies have received those waivers, which are likely to continue until full implementation of the bill in 2014.Mr. Angerhofer ends his op-ed with a whopper: the reason people without health insurance are more likely to die is not because they lack insurance, but because they “lack care.” It should be obvious to everyone that the people who don’t get care are the ones who can’t afford it because they don’t have insurance.Mark Fernald

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