• Heritage Action
  • More

Government plan shuts out workers' private insurance

Created on August 11, 2009

Government plan shuts out workers' private insurance

Keeping Your Doctor and Health Plan Not That Simple

By Ken McIntyre

President Barack Obama did it again the other day in Portsmouth, N.H.

"Under the reform we're proposing, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor," the president assured the friendly crowd Aug. 11. "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan."

Obama has reiterated the same promises about liberals' version of health care reform going back more than a year now, to the campaign trail. Now he's trying to reassure a substantial majority of Americans who are happy with their existing health insurance.

But a growing number understand that, with all due respect, their president's saying so over and over again -- while contending they'll also "pay less" -- doesn't make it so. In fact, with the changes he seeks, folks will have less choice in whether to keep their current doctor or health plan - and in their own family medical decisions.

That's according to an independent analysis by the non-partisan Lewin Group, the well-regarded health care policy research and management consulting firm. (Lewin's clients include the federal government as well as The Heritage Foundation, other foundations, associations and health care providers.)

Lewin's study of the House bill, HR 3200, found that 88.1 million workers would lose their existing, employer-sponsored health insurance and be shifted elsewhere. Many would wind up in a government-run "public" plan modeled on Medicare.

Nationwide, Lewin calculates, 103.9 million Americans would end up on the government-run plan as employers opt out of existing private insurance amid unfair taxpayer-funded competition.

What's more, Lewin estimated the typical American's annual premium for private coverage could jump as much as $460 per person as the public plan increasingly shifted costs.

If Congress passes such a plan and he signs it into law, President Obama simply would not be able to keep repeated promises that Americans can "keep" their doctors and health plans.

Sadly, this wasn't the only untrue or misleading statement the president made in New Hampshire as he leads the all-out effort by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other liberal Democrats to salvage a Big Government takeover.

Liberals in Congress are feeling a bit queasy as working Americans increasingly oppose such a startling government intrusion on their cherished free choices in a free and competitive market.

Some try to paint conservative lawmakers as "opponents"of overhauling the health care system who'd rather "do nothing." They ignore responsible Republican alternatives such as the Patients' Choice Act, the Health Care Freedom Plan and the Improving Health Care for All Americans Act.

Heritage's health policy experts, sobered by the Lewin study and urging a fairer, measured approach, continue to call Obama on denying the plain truth.

"Michelle and I don't want anyone telling us who our family's doctor should be -- and no one should decide that for you either," Obama said in a recent weekly video address. "Under our proposals, if you like your doctor, you keep your doctor. If you like your current insurance, you keep that insurance. Period, end of story."

But as Heritage's Nina Owcharenko and Greg D'Angelo blogged in response, "his assertion is only true if the story were fiction." They added:

"President Obama has stated that any plan he'd sign must include a health insurance exchange with a public 'option.' So, if you like your current insurance you may, in fact, lose it. Period. End of story."

Ken McIntyre is the Marilyn and Fred Guardabassi Fellow in Media and Public Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.