One of the claims that has been going around is that healthcare in Massachusetts is affordable; in fact, MIT economist
Paul Jonathan Gruber, who has come under fire for conflicts-of-interest, has made this claim:
In considering affordability for a group, we need to establish a sensible benchmark whereby insurance is considered affordable if “most of” a group can afford it. We can disagree about what “most of” means, but it would be wrong to define “most of” only as “very close to 100%.”
Well, that’s good to know. Because most humans, as opposed to MIT economists, would think, when it comes to your health, that, let’s say, one out of five adults not being afford health care isn’t all that, erm affordable. So let’s see what “most of” actually looks like (these are 2008 data from MA):
And ‘affordable’ also means that one in six people have a hard time paying the bills:
Now, let’s look at who is the beneficiary of all of this affordability:
For those wondering what “150-299% FPL” means, for a family of four, that’s between $31,812 – $63,612 per year. That’s right, households that are in the second fifth take it in the chops (MA has a high median household income). Even if you’re around the median (~$89,000), there’s still a good chance that your healthcare really isn’t affordable.
If this is the standard that is being used for the current healthcare reform legislation, this is both a policy and political disaster in the making. Atrios always points out, people have to like this shit. As I noted two years ago, forcing people to purchase healthcare plans which do not provide them the healthcare they need (which is what the above figures indicate) is not popular–nor should it be (does that even need to be written?).
Sadly, it looks like the Senate bill (and that’s what will pass) is very similar to the MA bill. This is a program that will rightly be perceived as helping the poor at the expense of the lower-middle and middle class (the upper-middle and upper class can take care of themselves). It plays directly into the hands of Republicans, and it does so because Democrats were too concerned with the shibboleth of cost reduction* to pass a plan that would be broadly popular.
This is not affordable, at least as the term is used by decent human beings.
*I would argue the primary healthcare goal over the next five to ten years should be to ensure that everyone gets the healthcare they need, regardless of income, not deficit reduction. Of course, the more universal proposals actually would reduce costs more than the Senate monstrosity. Even if that weren’t the case, deficit reduction should not be the first priority, given the suffering and death a crappy healthcare system causes.