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The most important table you'll read today

healthcoststable.jpg

You probably can't read the table atop this post. Click on it, it'll get bigger. It's the work of Jon Cohn and MIT's Jon Gruber, and it shows what health-care reform will mean for families at different levels of income.

The story isn't perfection but improvement. An insured family making $60,000 is likely to be paying almost $13,000 for coverage in 2016 and facing more than $12,000 in out-of-pocket costs if they're hit with a real medical emergency. Under reform, that same family will be paying $5,800 in premiums, and their out of pocket maximum will be $6,300. Their total risk, as Cohn puts it, has fallen from $25,000 to $12,000. That's still an embarrassment when judged against other industrialized nations where people aren't bankrupted because someone fell sick, but it's an enormous improvement compared with our nation.

And Cohn's table, if anything, understates the gains. For instance: That family making $60,000 could be turned away because the mother once had breast cancer. And if they can't get insurance, they are, of course, on the hook for everything they own. Under reform, that family can't be turned away from insurance.

Anyway, read Jon Cohn for much more.

By Ezra Klein  |  December 21, 2009; 11:36 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Comments

Your chart assumes that both types of care are equal in quality. They are not. Government run care will never be as good as free market care. (Check the state of our public schools vs. private schools.)

Who cares what the cost is if the quality is crap- not being able to choose your doctor, waiting for a long time for care, being denied care under rationing or governmental guidelines,like the mammogram scandal.

Yes, you can buy an Indian Tata automobile for $2,000 and save $16,000 dollars over a Honda Civic. Who wants to buy a Tata? Perhaps you do Ezra?

Posted by: HayeksHeroes | December 21, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

the comparison w/o reform to with reform is an improvement...

but how does asking a family of four to pay 20 percent of its income when that total income is between $48 and $84K is still a burden that is unacceptable...how will that family of four save money to send their kids to college?

they won't

as a starting point it may be hopeful if there is a reasonable expectation that health care and drug costs will decline significantly going forward.

the display of unapologetic raw power put on by the health care industrial complex through this debate, the expectation that cost will decline significantly is a fools errand.

Posted by: hughmaine | December 21, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

For some of these families in good health paying any premium will be a huge hardship or nearly impossible. They will hate being mandated to pay thousands of dollars they don't have to get health insurance they may not need. It is a fallacy to say that paying $3629 instead of $12042 is a "savings" to the family making $48,367. To that healthy family it is a $3629 fee they must pay to the insurance companies so that someone else can't be excluded for a preexisting condition. And that family might need that $3629 to pay for something like food, heat, or their kids' orthodontic work, which they now can't afford. I know, I've been there.

Posted by: AuthorEditor | December 21, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,

Look, I think it's great that this bill will help some people, I really do, but you don't seem to understand that for people who don't have serious illnesses, it only gets them health insurance not health care.

I'm self-employed and uninsured right about at 200 percent of the FPL. That means I try not to spend money on health care. I only go to the doctor when I'm really sick. I don't get checkups, I don't get screenings, I don't get treatment for a couple of minor chronic conditions I have. Even so, this year I've spent about $1,000 on health care. That's a lot of money for me.

According to Cohn's chart, I'll be "mandated" to spend about $3,600. That more than triples my health care costs. But does it get me more health care? No. It gets me less.

Because that's just for insurance. I still have to pay a deductible, which will be what, $1,000? $2,000? $5,000? So the insurance company skims $3,600 right off the top, and only then do I get to begin paying for actual health care.

And I'm supposed to be happy that the Democrats "got me health insurance"? I'm supposed to think of this as a "benefit"? You've got to be kidding me.

I could get $3,600 of actual health care for the same money without this bill. If it passes, I can still get $2,850 more health care by paying the $750 penalty and paying doctors out of pocket than I can by exercising the wonderful new "benefit" that the Democrats got for me.

Posted by: kuri | December 21, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

hughmaine:

Nobody is asking a family to pay "20 percent of its income". That's their maximum risk--the amount they'd pay if they had a HUGE medical emergency. If they stay healthy, it's more like 7.5% (for the $48k family) to 11.6% (for the $84k family).

Now, you can still argue that it's too much, but let's at least try to understand what we're really talking about.

Posted by: jeb_mn | December 21, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

So now the biased sources (Gruber) and the biased media (Cohn) have given up all pretense of journalistic independence. ECHO Echo echo cho o ...

I get tired of pointing out that yes people who receive subsidies will pay less initially, but the subsidies are unsustainable because the bill doesn't control costs. Also the subsidies erode over time due to improper indexing.

Posted by: bmull | December 21, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

kuri:

So sorry, you selfish prick.

Insurance doesn't work if we only pay for ourselves. Good thing you're invincible. I'm sure if (God Forbid) something bad happens to you, you won't be there with your hand out.

Posted by: backslider | December 22, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

@jeb_mn

"Nobody is asking a family to pay "20 percent of its income". That's their maximum risk--the amount they'd pay if they had a HUGE medical emergency."

clearly you have no undersanding of what "out of pocket max" refers to...that family of four pays the out of pocket up front first before any coverage kicks in...

clearly you have no understanding of what a vist to an emergency room costs

clearly you have no understanding what the odds are of going to an emergency room or needing health care with two children in a family

so please understand what we are truly talking about your own self ...

Posted by: hughmaine | December 22, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

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