The cost of health insurance could hinder President
Obama's goal of achieving universal coverage.
high cost of health insurance premiums would continue to put coverage out of
reach for millions even if Congress approves legislation President Obama says
is intended to ensure 'that every American has affordable health care,'"
USA Today reports.
number of people who remain uninsured will depend on how House and Senate
leaders reconcile separate versions of health care legislation to arrive at a
final bill. The factors include the size of government subsidies to help
low-income families pay for insurance and the scope of penalties that would be
charged for those who don't buy a plan."
to a Congressional Budget Office analysis, 17 million Americans would remain
uninsured under the Senate Finance Committee's 10-year, $829 billion health
care bill," including many "families who earn too much to qualify for
Medicaid but not enough to pay for insurance. Others who could remain uninsured
under the Finance Committee bill include people who choose to pay a proposed
$750-a-year fine rather than buy coverage and those who are eligible for
Medicaid but don't enroll" (Fritze, 10/26).
Washington Post reports that "the question of whether people will follow a
government order that they carry health insurance, an issue that will help
determine whether universal health care is a success or costly failure, will
depend on more than the penalty they would pay for refusing, many economists
say. This, they say, is the lesson of behavioral economics, a school of thought
that holds that people do not necessarily make decisions out of well-reasoned
self-interest. It is an approach that has gained a powerful foothold in the
Obama White House."
Behavioral economists say that "compliance
will depend not only on the penalties and cost of coverage, but also on the
ease of signing up for coverage and whether people can be persuaded that it is
a widely accepted social norm. They point to the large number of eligible
people who fail to take advantage of Medicaid, food stamps and Pell grants as a
sign that perceived inconvenience can keep people from taking steps in their
economic interest" (MacGillis, 10/26).
Source: Kaiser Health News