A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Insurance Industry: Spinning the Polls

Harry and Louise may have switched sides, but that’s no excuse, in our book, for the health insurance industry to resort to misrepresenting polls as it argues against inclusion of a public plan in health care overhaul proposals on Capitol Hill.
Karen Ignani, the head of industry trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), told lawmakers that “77 percent of Americans are satisfied with their existing health insurance coverage,” according to today’s Washington Post.

Canadian Straw Man

Two ads from related independent groups make claims about an overhaul of the health care system, saying Congress wants a government-run health care system. One ad claims that “Washington wants to bring Canadian-style health care to the U.S.” But the health care bills moving through Congress don’t call for a single-payer system like Canada’s …

Readers Talk Back on Insurance Costs

We received a number of e-mails after we said, in our article "Pushing for a Public Plan," that "the average monthly payment for workers with employer-sponsored coverage is … $280 for a family policy." It seems that a lot of you weren’t satisfied with the finding, which is from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
A sampling:
My Family policy with BCBS had a $500 [deductible] for all 3 members and my bill was $800 a month. We now have a group policy for all 5 members of our 2 optical shops,

The ‘Real’ Uninsured

Former Sen. Fred Thompson said on “Meet the Press” that “the 45 million … figure of uninsured is probably about twice the real number of people who can’t afford insurance or don’t have access to it really.” He’s not the only one saying that the number is inflated. We find …

Pushing for a Public Plan

Liberal groups have hit TV and radio with ads praising the idea of a public health insurance plan, an option that President Obama and other Democrats support as part of changes to the health care system. But the ads lack context and could well mislead the public: A TV ad …

Obama’s Health Care Claims

We found several claims in Obama’s recent health-care sales pitches that could use some explanation or qualification. He said “the average family pays a thousand dollars in extra premiums to pay for people going to the emergency room who don’t have health insurance.” That’s from a recent report by …

Uninsured U.S. Citizens

Q: How many of the uninsured are U.S. citizens?
A: The vast majority of the uninsured are citizens from working families.

Doctor’s Orders?

Conservative politicians have claimed that the stimulus bill requires that doctors follow government orders on what medical treatments can and can’t be prescribed. But the bill doesn’t say that. Rep. Tom Price of Georgia says the measure creates “a national health care rationing board.” Not true. What it creates is …

Health Care Bill Bankruptcies

Q: What is the percentage of total personal bankruptcies caused by health care bills?
A: A Harvard study published in 2005 found that about half of those who filed for bankruptcy said health care expenses, illness or related job-loss led them to do so. Twenty-seven percent cited uncovered medical bills specifically, and 2 percent said they had mortgaged their home to pay what they owed.

Health Care Premium Costs

In last week’s final debate, Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama cited greatly different estimates for the average cost of health insurance, and a number of readers have asked us to sort it out.

Obama: By the way, the average policy costs about $12,000. …
McCain: The average cost of a health care insurance plan in America today is $5,800.

Both candidates were talking about the relative value of the $5,000 tax credit McCain wants to give to families and couples (individuals would get up to $2,500) to purchase health care policies.