Friday, February 25, 2011

Showing our work

We are a full service blog, and as such we strive to please our audience.  Someone asked for elaboration on my last post, which dealt with a Kaiser poll of perceptions about the health care law which was passed last year.  I took to task several supposed explanations from people who said the law had already negatively effected them, but didn't pay any attention to the claims of those who say that the law has had a positive effect on their lives.   So now I'll go through those explanations provided and examine which explanations can be tied to the implementation of the law and which might simply be wishful or partisan in nature.

1) “I’m not worried about being bumped off [down] the road because of some major illness…And as I get older toward qualifying for Medicare, I am more comfortable because the prescription drugs will be less.”

In this case, its possible that these are anticipated benefits, not actual benefits from the implementation of the law.  Several of the protections about pre-existing conditions and high risk pools have been rolled out, but not all.  Certainly the part of about anticipated Medicare costs don't yet apply, given that this person is apparently not yet on Medicare.  However, as of September 2010 the law prohibits insurers from dropping people when they get sick (a common practice before the law), so in a sense this is at least partially correct: the insured need not worry about "bumped off" due to illness.  Overall you might give this one partial credit.

2) “My son, 23, works two jobs that do not have health insurance, and he can stay under my health insurance.”

This is directly tied to the implementation of the law.  As of September 2010, adult dependents up to age 26 can remain on their parents health insurance if they so desire.

3) “My husband fell into the doughnut hole and received $250.”

Again, directly related to the implementation of the law.  The "donut hole" refers to a coverage gap which misses certain individuals who participate in Medicare Part D.  As a result of the health care law, these individuals all received a check to help them cover the costs of prescription drugs.

4) “If we need to purchase new health care coverage, nobody can turn us down.”

Difficult to classify this one.  Some of the provisions against denial for preexisting conditions have gone into effect, but not all of them.  The quote could imply that these people might not have coverage at all.  So its hard to say that this law has directly effected them yet or if these are anticipated benefits.

5) “We have children with disabilities. The new reform law has really helped us. Since we have children with preexisting conditions, we get coverage."

This is true.  As of September 2010, the law requires that insurers provide coverage for children up to 19 whether or not they have preexisting conditions.   There are also temporary high risk pools which have been started, so its possible that insurance for sick individuals could be purchased through these pools.

6) “I got health coverage when I needed it.”

Hard to classify without more details.  Certainly its possible that this person made use of the high risk pools or falls under one of the other covered categories, but its also possible that the implementation of the law had no effect in this case.  

7) “It has allowed my husband to have all his medical treatments for his illness.”

Again, hard to classify.  Its possible that the implementation of the law had no relation to this case, or its possible that treatment was received as a result of the provisions.  As of September 2010, there is no longer a lifetime cost cap on essential health care, so its possible that this individual received more care than they would have under the old system.  Its also possible that this person was able to keep their insurance instead of being bumped off when they got sick, which would be a direct result of the law.  Without more details, its hard to say if this case was related to the law or not.

8) “It makes our health insurance more inexpensive.”

This could be anticipated benefits down the road, as most of the subsidies for purchasing health insurance have not yet kicked in.  It could also be wishful thinking about the effects of the law on health care costs overall.

So in the cases of the 14% who say the law has personally benefited them, we get some examples which can be shown as being a direct result of the law's implementation and some examples which are harder to classify.  In these latter cases its possible that people are merely expressing a partisan or uninformed viewpoint in support of the law without actually feeling its effects, but without more details its impossible to classify their claims "true" or "false" as related to the law in question.

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