Category Archives: myths & fallacies

Myths and fallacies about medical care and health care policy

Colorado Medicaid expansion: Denver Business Journal spreads myth of unsinsured cost-shift

In the Denver Business Journal, Ed Sealover describes the effect of Gov. Hickenlooper’s proposed Medicaid expansion on businesses:

The most direct effect of the move on general businesses could be a long-term slowing of the growth of health-insurance costs if hospitals can reduce the cost of uncompensated care for uninsured patients — which they now pass along to patients insured by employers by increasing their costs of care.

I left the following comment:

This analysis does not account for how much Medicaid, through low doctor payment rates, increases insurance premiums. This amount is much more than the amount uninsured people increase premiums when they do not pay part of all of their medical bills. For details on this, see my article: Your Health Care; Don’t Trust the Colorado Trust.

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The Battle Of The Narrative: How Ordinary Americans Can Fight ObamaCare

At Forbes, Paul Hsieh, MD writes:

As the problems of ObamaCare inevitably emerge, the big question will be whether they will be blamed on the residual free-market elements of our health system or on the new government controls. This will be the battle of the “narrative.” …

If we let the government shift responsibility for ObamaCare’s problems onto the residual private sector, those problems will eventually be used to justify a government-run “single payer” system. On the other hand, if Americans hold the government appropriately responsible, we stand a chance at adopting genuine free-market health reforms. …

The government is already planning its own health care propaganda campaign aimed at the American people. …

Ordinary Americans can fight back by speaking out against the government narrative when appropriate with family and friends.

Read the whole article: The Battle Of The Narrative: How Ordinary Americans Can Fight ObamaCare – Forbes.

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Medical bankruptcy: Fact or fiction?

Sally Pipes writes:

But the alleged link between health costs and bankruptcy is about as real as the tooth fairy. The overwhelming body of research shows that medical costs play little or no role in the vast majority of U.S. personal bankruptcies.

Read more: Medical bankruptcy: Fact or fiction? – The Hill’s Congress Blog.

(via FIRM)


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Strategies 360’s “Protect Your Care” spreads ObamaCare’s biggest falsehood

The Denver branch of the PR firm Strategies 360 has helped spread the biggest falsehood of Obamacare supporters: the before Obamacare, insurers could legally cancel people’s policies after they get sick. Both Federal Regulations and state laws forbid this.

Writing for a campaign called “Protect Your Care,” Courtney Law of Strategies 360 writes:

The heart of the law is to hold insurance companies accountable by prohibiting them from cutting off coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

For years, insurance companies could drop your coverage if you were diagnosed with cancer or diabetes, if your toddler developed asthma or if your husband hurt his back.

Unless I am missing something, this claim is utterly false, though it has been used to sell Obamacare to the electorate. In 2009, John Graham (then of the Pacific Research Institute) wrote a blog post titled: “Someone Please tell the President: It’s Been Illegal to Drop Coverage Since 1997.”  It begins:

Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations (45 CFR  § 148.122)  is about “guaranteed renewability of individual health insurance coverage.” Paragraphs (a) and (b) read as follows:

(a)    Applicability. This section applies to all health insurance coverage in the individual market.

(b)   General rules. (1) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, an issuer must renew or continue in force the coverage at the option of the individual.Paragraph (c) releases the health insurer from the obligation to renew coverage if you haven’t paid your premiums, if you’ve committed a fraudulent act under the terms of the coverage, if you move out of the insurer’s coverage area, or if you quit an association through which you’ve purchased insurance.

Graham continues:

These are all reasonable limits, and there’s no necessity for such federal regulation. Despite the president’s claim that “no one holds these companies accountable for these practices,” state insurance commissioners do, in fact, enforce good-faith execution of insurance contracts. President Obama should know this because Kathleen Sebelius, his Secretary of Health and Human Services, served as Insurance Commissioner in Kansas.

This suggests that Obama and his appointees are not merely ignorant of the law, but are willing deceiving the electorate into thinking that Obamacare bans something that is already illegal. (And as a violation of contract, should be illegal.)

Graham adds:

If a health insurer drops you because you’ve misrepresented your health status on your application, it’s called “rescission.” If the insurer does it illegally, it’s called “post-claims underwriting.”

In a more recent article, “Most Popular Part of Obamacare Is Redundant,” Graham adds:

In the final version of Obama’s health care legislation, H.R. 3590, section 2712 states an insurer “shall not rescind such plan or coverage with respect to an enrollee once an enrollee is covered under such plan or coverage involved, except that this section shall not apply to a covered individual who has performed an act or practice that constitutes fraud or makes an intentional misrepresentation of material fact as prohibited by the terms of the plan or coverage.”

Such behavior is already illegal under state laws.

In my state of California, the law is found in both the Insurance Code § 10384 through 10384.17, and the Health & Safety Code § 1389.3.

…[T]he relevant provisions … in the Illinois Administrative Code Title 50 § 2005.40(d) through (f) and the Merged Iowa Code and Supplement Title XIII § 514A.3.1.b, respectively.


Some background on Strategies 360: Strategies 360 is “a national government affairs and public relations shop being headed up locally by Democratic operative Tyler Chafee,” writes Tim Hoover of the Denver Post. Hoover continues: “[Courtney] Law will work on the Colorado effort of Know Your Care, Protect Your Care, a national campaign to defend the Affordable Care Act.”

For more on rescission and post-claims underwriting, see:

Here’s a local copy of the “Protect Your Care” article.

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Contra Colorado Health Foundation: Fee-for-service medicine not the problem

Health care policy analyst Greg Scandlen writes:

Almost everyone involved in health care will tell you that the greatest problem in our system is that we pay on a fee-for-service basis. Almost everyone is wrong.

For example, Sandy Graham, managing editor of a Colorado Health Foundation publication, writes:

With the fee-for-service model, there is little incentive to limit the quantity of care or seek lower-cost alternatives. A reformed system would give providers financial incentives to avoid unnecessary care and provide quality care.

Scandlen continues his critique of those, like Graham, who blame fee-for-service medicine for medical care problems:

The graph below shows the CPI broken into components. Food, housing transportation, apparel – all are paid fee-for-service and all have a lower rate of inflation than health care. …

click to enlarge

Yes, the providers of these services would like to sell us more units of service. But we have good reason to resist – we don’t want to waste our money on services we don’t need.

What is unique about health care is not fee-for-service, but third-party payment. Only in health care is there someone else picking up the tab for our spending.

via Is Fee-For-Service the Problem? | John Goodman’s Health Policy Blog |

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Your health care: Don’t trust the Colorado Trust

Colorado TrustThis article originally appeared in the print edition of the Boulder Daily Camera on March 31, 2012.

The Colorado Trust is a statewide grant-making foundation with assets exceeding $400 million. It claims to be “dedicated to achieving access to health for all Coloradans.”  The Trust and its grantees use shifty arguments to support ObamaCare’s individual mandate, which requires Americans to purchase a politically-approved health plan. With the Supreme Court’s hearings on the mandate’s Constitutionality just completed, it’s time to reveal the flaws and deceptions behind the Trust’s advocacy.

Continue reading

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Jared Polis, you’re wrong: Obamacare is a government takeover

With Colorado Rep. Jared Polis (D) facing reelection for District 2 against either Republican Eric Weissmann or Kevin Lundberg (& those from other parties), it’s worth examining Polis’s record on health care policy.

Polis claims that ObamaCare is not “a government takeover of the health care industry.”  He’s wrong. The only way he could be correct is that if he argued that, even before ObamaCare, government had already taken over the industry. Continue reading

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