The signing into law of the health-care reform bill last week – as
well as the intense back-and-forth rhetoric over the past year – have
created many questions about what the new legislation will mean for
has analyzed seven health-care fears to determine how true they are.
– Health care will not be ‘rationed’ for the elderly or anyone else
by the government. (In fact, health care is already rationed, in a sense
– by the private insurance companies themselves.)
– The bill will impact Medicare Advantage plans – a program designed
to pay private insurers 14% above normal Medicare rates to administer
Medicare benefits – but will not be as drastic or destructive as
Republican critics have claimed. Most of the changes do not go into
effect until 2015.
– There will not be draconian enforcement measures undertaken by the
IRS, which won’t be drastically expanded by 1/4th of its current payroll
as claimed. The IRS and Department of Health and Human Services both
have a responsibility under the law, though, to ensure that individuals
are purchasing coverage. No penalties will be given to those who do not
report insurance coverage to the IRS.
– There may be longer wait times on average for primary doctor’s
visits, but this will mostly apply to those who are visiting a physician
for the first time, or are switching physicians. Most people will not
notice a difference. At all clinics, however, new insurance/changed insurance terms mean new paperwork.
– TRICARE, the system used to provide benefits to military members
and dependents, will not be ended, nor will it be gutted. The program
meets all the requirements established by the law and will not have its
– Employees of the federal government will not be forced to switch
coverage or join health-insurance exchanges. President Obama, though,
has voluntarily joined the exchange, and it is likely that federal
employees will eventually be required to join the health-care exchanges
at some point in the future.
– Illegal immigrants will not be entitled to free health care,
although some critics allege that the verification system in place is
weak and will be avoided easily.