The national discussion about healthcare reform continues, especially as the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplace coverage is set to take effect in January.
Healthcare reform is a heated topic, and there is plenty of confusion about what is fact and what is fiction. As we all talk about the future of healthcare, our discussion should be informed by facts.
With that in mind, here are four common myths — and the facts behind them.
Myth 1: The government is taking over health insurance
“As we all talk about the future of healthcare, our discussion should be informed by facts.”
David Longworth, MD
Chairman, Medicine Institute
Fact: Established private insurance companies sell plans on the new state and federal health insurance exchanges.
The rollout of Healthcare.gov does not represent a government takeover of insurance plans. The government provides the platform, but private insurers — including some of the biggest names in the industry — sell plans competitively through that platform. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) does increase government regulation of the insurance industry.
If you are selecting a plan on the health exchanges, be sure that your physician and hospital are included.
Myth 2: The government is seizing control of the care of patients
Fact: The healthcare system will still rely on a competitive market for delivery.
Will there be more government involvement in healthcare now, particularly in terms of quality measures? Yes. However, care is still provided at private hospitals, clinics and physician practices. Critics often compare the ACA to socialized systems such as England’s. Keep in mind that England’s medical professionals are employees of the government. That’s simply not the case in America, where private competition will remain the norm.
Myth 3: The government will ration care
Fact: By law, government bodies can’t recommend policies that ration care.
Critics often tie the idea of rationing care to the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The IPAB is a group that makes recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services for reducing Medicare costs. However, by law, the IPAB does not write policy. It can only make recommendations — and Congress has the power to override those recommendations.
On top of that, the law’s language literally forbids the IPAB from making any recommendations that ration care, raise Medicare beneficiary premiums or restrict Medicare benefits.
Myth 4: The ACA provides free coverage to undocumented immigrants
Fact: Illegal immigrants can’t purchase health insurance marketplace plans. They also can’t enroll in Medicaid.
Permanent legal residents can apply for subsidies on the health insurance marketplaces, just like American citizens can. But as with insurance plans, these subsidies are not available for illegal immigrants.