As of Wednesday, October 14, there are some things we know, and some things we don’t know.
We know that the most recent economic projections forecast 10.3 percent unemployment as of next June and 8.5 percent unemployment through 2013.
And we know that cost increases to businesses and families could make these numbers even worse. They will slow down the recovery and kill job creation.
Now for what we don’t know: As of Monday, we can no longer have confidence that we know what the true cost of the Left’s health reform will be. A late-breaking report said that the bill passed yesterday by the Senate Finance Committee will increase the health care costs of the average American family by $4,000.
This specific figure may or may not prove to be the case.
The point is, we don’t know. And we can’t pass a law that remakes our economy and directly impacts the health of all Americans until we do.
$4,000 More in Cost to Families, $1,500 More in Costs to Individuals
The new report, prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers and paid for by the insurance industry, contains some disturbing estimates of how much the Senate Finance Committee bill will cost Americans.
For the average family of four, health insurance costs about $12,300 today. The report found that, if we do nothing, that cost will rise to $21,900 in 2019. But under the Finance Committee bill, the average family will see its health care costs rise to $25,900 in 2019 — a full $4,000 more than if we do nothing.
For the average single American, the cost of health care insurance today is about $4,600. The report found that this cost will rise to $8,200 in 2019 without the bill just passed by the Senate committee, but to $9,700 with it — creating an additional cost to single Americans of $1,500.
This report comes on the heels of a CBO estimate last month that said the Senate Finance Committee bill will increase premium costs for both employers and individuals who purchase insurance on their own: “Premiums in the new insurance exchanges would tend to be higher than the average premiums in the current-law individual market…”
Some Analysts Believe the Study Underestimates the Cost of Liberal Health Reforms
This new report may or may not be an accurate estimate of the costs Americans will bear under liberal health care reform. Some, including Ron Bachman, a health care analyst at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Center for Health Transformation, believe the PwC study underestimates the cost of liberal reforms.
Bachman believes that when the Finance Committee bill is merged with the legislation passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, the costs of private health insurance will be even higher than under the Finance bill.
Right now, three senators — the chairmen of the Finance and HELP committees and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) — are meeting in secret to produce a bill for the full Senate to vote on. According to Bachman, the HELP bill is so loaded with pork barrel spending (he calls it the “Mother of all Slush Funds”) that the final Senate bill will cost even more than the Finance Committee legislation alone.
Consumers Bear the Cost of New Health Care Taxes Through Higher Premiums
Although we can’t yet know if the PwC numbers will reflect the exact costs of the Senate’s health plan, we can make some logical inferences that liberal health care reform will increase prices to American families and businesses.
The Senate Finance Committee bill, for instance, raises taxes on employers and insurers by more than $200,000,000,000.
The bill also taxes drug companies and medical device manufacturers, which will raise the cost of these items. And because insurers cover drugs and devices through insurance policies, consumers will ultimately bear the cost of these taxes through higher premiums.
Furthermore, the Senate Finance bill would destroy the very nature of “insurance,” which is for everyone — young and old, sick and healthy — to pay into the same system so that the medical care for those who need it is paid for by the insurance premiums of those who do not. The Finance bill may end up leaving mainly the sick in the system by requiring health plans to cover everyone, but allowing people to wait until they are sick to purchase a policy.
Sure, individuals would be fined as little as $200 a year if they don’t buy insurance, but why would someone want to buy a product today, knowing that they can buy it later at the same price when they actually need it? John Lott has a good column that compares this to buying auto insurance after you crash your car.
At the end of the day, health insurance premiums are a reflection of the health care delivery system. Because the Finance Committee bill will directly raise premiums through higher taxes but does little to actually reform delivery, it’s the worst of both worlds.
For ideas on how we can reform our health care delivery system and truly bring down costs to families and businesses, visit healthtransformation.net.
Congress Should Insist on Three Independent Studies Before it Votes
Americans can be forgiven for not knowing who to believe right now. And the Obama Administration’s response to the new study — to demonize the messenger rather than engage on the facts — doesn’t help clarify things.
Before it votes to transform one-sixth of our economy and every American’s health care, Congress should know the facts.
Congress should commission three independent studies of the cost of proposed health care reform by three professionally respected analytical firms.
Then Congress should post these studies online, so that all members and the American people can read them.
And then — and only then — Congress should vote.
As I mentioned in a column last week, some members of Congress are getting careless about reading legislation before they vote on it.
So for those members and others who need a refresher course on American democracy, here’s how it should go:
First: Know the Facts
Second: Read the Bill.
Newt’s Quick Links
• A Tale of Courage To Remind Us of The Cost of Freedom – Next week, Bill Forstchen and I will release our new book, To Try Men’s Souls, our accounting of the Christmas night in 1776, when General George Washington led his men across the icy Delaware River to attack Hessian troops stationed in Trenton. It is a rousing tale of the incredible courage of the colonial army and the cost of freedom. It will be released next week but you can pre-order the book from Amazon.com today. CLICK HERE.
• A Film To Remind Us of the Nature of Our Freedoms — Callista and I host and co-produce a new movie that shows how religious liberty evolved in early America and how central a role God played in the founding and development of our country. Rediscovering God in America II: Our Heritage traces the history of God in America from the landing at Cape Henry through the Civil War. You can view a trailer and learn how to get a copy of the film at gingrichproductions.com.
• A New Organization To Protect Our Freedoms — Liz Cheney, Bill Kristol and Debra Burlingame have launched a fantastic new group called Keep America Safe. Their mission is to make the case for, in their words, “an unapologetic approach to fighting terrorism around the world, for victory in the wars this country fights, for democracy and human rights, and for a strong American military that is needed in the dangerous world in which we live.” You can see their website and first web ad at keepamericasafe.com.
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