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A blitz of scare tactics about health care

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[In response to the June 6 commentary, “Rethinking health care reform,” by Hilda Bettermann:]

There has been a blitz of scare tactics and myths spread about the Affordable Care Act (sometimes called Obamacare).

Bettermann states “more expensive [coverage], and where health care choices are limited.” In truth, before Obamacare, health care premiums shot up more than 90 percent between 2000 and 2007, while the profits of the 10 largest insurance corporations increased 428 percent over the same period.

Choices used to be very limited as well. In the past 13 years before the ACA, there were more than 400 corporate mergers involving health insurers and this led to 94 percent of statewide insurance markets being highly concentrated.

Under the old way of doing things, we let health insurance giants run amok and abuse customers, like charging women more, canceling policies as soon as someone got sick, or denying coverage because being a cop is a “pre-existing condition.” The per capita spending on health care was also about double for Americans than it was in any other developed nation.

Despite spending twice as much per person than any other nation, nearly 50 million Americans did not have health insurance, and another 25 million were so under-insured that they could not afford to get sick (the junk plans that were stopped thanks to the ACA). Many of those junk plans were partially to blame for the Great Recession as well.

In the pre-Affordable Care Act days, the U.S. health system spent a higher portion of its gross domestic product than any other country but only ranked a mere 37th out of 191 countries according to its performance.

Look, nobody is claiming that the Affordable Care Act is perfect. It should have had a strong, robust public option to drive down costs for hard working families even more. It is better than what we allowed to happen before, and it can be improved upon. Recently it has also come to light that MNsure (Minnesota’s state version of the Affordable Care Act) has led to a 41 percent decrease in the uninsured rate.

Hopefully this is a first step, and we can move to a system where there is a doctor for every family in a single payer system (like Medicare), which could lower costs by 30 percent by eliminating duplicative administrative, advertising, and corporate profit costs.

The scare tactics and myths being spread about the Affordable Care Act sound a lot like the scare tactics and myths that were spread about Social Security and Medicare in generations past. Those turned out to be untrue, as will the myths about the ACA today.

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