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Checking the ObamaCare Math

Many of the numbers being used in the push for health care reform are clearly inaccurate. (Also read Roger L. Simon: Dean of Harvard Medical School Destroys ObamaCare)

by
Jeffrey H. Anderson

Bio

November 18, 2009 - 12:00 am

The health care debate has largely been a battle of numbers, and the most widely cited one — 46 million uninsured — isn’t even accurate.

According to the census, the real number of uninsured Americans is 28 million: 46 million, minus nine million non-citizens, minus nine million people on Medicaid who were falsely tallied as uninsured.

But that hasn’t kept the Congressional Budget Office from using a figure of 50 million uninsured. By all accounts, the CBO is getting its number from the census while failing to adjust for the census’ admitted Medicaid undercount (while apparently adding four million because of the recession). By inflating the number of uninsured by about 20 percent, the CBO is significantly overstating the magnitude of the problem and is aiding the Democrats in their push to dramatically increase government’s power and control over our health care system.

But these are by no means the only interesting numbers in the health care debate. Here are some others:

17: The percentage of the United States gross domestic product (GDP) that’s currently being spent on health care, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

21: The percentage of U.S. GDP that would be spent on health care in 2019 under the House health bill, according to CMS.

3.4:  The percentage increase in U.S. health care spending in 2019 under the House health bill’s coverage provisions (in relation to projections under current law), according to CMS.

60 billion: The number of American tax dollars that Medicare loses each year to fraud, according to 60 Minutes and the Washington Post.

8.3 billion: The combined profits last year, in dollars, of America’s ten largest private health insurance companies, according to Fortune 500.

830 billion: The combined profits, in dollars, that America’s ten largest private health insurance companies would make — at the rate of last year’s profits — over 100 years, according to Fortune 500.

1.009 trillion: The costs, in dollars, of the Senate Finance Committee health bill in the seven-year span from 2014 to 2020, according to the CBO.

90: The percentage of Americans who already have health insurance, according to the census.

95: The percentage of Americans who either have health insurance or make more money than most Americans, according to the census.

31,000: The number of dollars that the Senate Finance Committee health bill would spend by 2020 for every American that it would remove from the ranks of the uninsured, according to the CBO.

25: The percentage by which the Senate Finance Committee bill — now in the hands of Senator Reid — would cut Medicare payments to doctors in 2011, according to the CBO.

0: The percentage that the Senate Finance Committee bill would raise doctors’ Medicare payments back up at any point in the future, according to the CBO.

98.3: The percentage of the Senate Finance Committee bill’s “ten-year” costs that would hit during the last six years of that period, according to the CBO.

1.7 trillion: The number of dollars that the Senate Finance Committee bill would cost in its real first ten years (2014-2023), according to the CBO.

1.0 trillion: The number of dollars that Americans’ taxes would be raised under the Senate Finance Committee bill in its real first ten years (2014-2023), according to the CBO.

900 billion: The approximate number of dollars that the Senate Finance Committee bill would siphon out of Medicare and spend elsewhere in the bill’s real first ten years, according to the CBO.

2017: The year in which the Medicare Hospital Trust Fund is currently projected to become insolvent even if no one siphons any additional money out of it, according to the Medicare Trustees Report.

740 billion: The increase in federal deficits in the Senate Finance Committee bill’s real first ten years (2014-2023) if it doesn’t follow through on its scheduled cuts to Medicare (including doctors’ payments) and other federal programs, according to the CBO.

50: The percentage of Americans who think that they would personally pay more if the Democrats pass a health bill, according to a poll published this month by the Economist.

9: The percentage of Americans who think that they would personally pay less if the Democrats pass a health bill, according to the same Economist poll.

28: The number of dollars that the Senate Finance Committee bill would spend in its real first decade for every dollar that the House Republican bill would spend in its real first decade, according to the CBO.

1: The number of proposed health bills that the CBO says would reduce Americans’ health insurance premiums (the House Republican bill, which would reduce them by up to ten percent).

Jeffrey H. Anderson, an independent writer, was the senior speechwriter for Secretary Mike Leavitt at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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