Fox & Friends falsely suggested that a projected 12 percent increase in out-of-pocket health care costs for the coming year was due to provisions of health care reform. In fact, as the Chicago Tribune reported, the increase of costs is primarily due to advances in medical technology and changes in the workforce demographics due to the economic downturn.
Fox & Friends falsely suggests health care reform to blame for out-of-pocket increase
Doocy suggests health care bill to blame for increasing costs. On the September 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy introduced the story by talking about the health care reform bill and tying the legislation to a report “that out-of-pocket expenses are gonna to be rising more than 12 percent for next year.” Doocy said:
DOOCY: Of course, there are many people who are running for Congress, who have kind of backed away from the fact that they voted for this health care reform bill, even though some Republicans are trying to tie Democrats to that. And, because, as we heard from [House] Speaker [Nancy Pelosi], you know, we're going to pass this thing so we can find out what's in it and then we heard others say once they get to know what's in it, they're going to love it. Well, here we've got a little information and that is not something you're going to love and that is the fact that out-of-pocket expenses are gonna to be rising more than 12 percent for next year. And that -- for many people, as soon as they hear that, they're go, “Wait a minute, we thought the prices were going to go down and they're going up 12 percent? That's not right.”
Although co-host Gretchen Carlson later noted that “this article says that it's not necessarily because of Obamacare,” Fox & Friends further suggested the health care reform bill was to blame by placing the report's findings next to an icon marked “Health Care Law”:
Peter Johnson Jr. lists “12 percent increase [in] out-of-pocket costs” as an effect of health care reform, while arguing that the legislation should be repealed. Later on Fox & Friends, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. pushed for repeal of the legislation, saying repealing health care reform “can happen. And if Americans are awake and alert and conscious of logic and economic theory and the need not to redistribute wealth or justice in this country at this point, then it will happen.” After co-host Brian Kilmeade said of the health care reform law, "[H]ere's the thing, we don't even know what's going to be in this thing still and most of it doesn't kick in till 2014. This is a slow boil," Johnson replied by saying, “We do know this in terms of the slow boil, and you talked about it this morning. A 12 percent increase now, out-of-pocket costs for Americans in terms of health care.” In addition, Johnson advanced the "wildly inaccurate" claim that the bill will lead to 16,000 new IRS agents.
In fact, the increase is primarily due to aging workforce and advancements in medical technology
Chicago Tribune: Cost increases “primarily because [of] advances in medical technology and the increasing use of medical services by an aging population.” A September 26 Chicago Tribune article reported that the projected health care cost increases are primarily due to advances in medical technology, and an older workforce. The article reports that the increasing costs associated with an aging workforce has been exacerbated by the economic downturn because business “are hiring fewer younger people,” whose premiums typically “absorb the costs of older employees.” According to the report by Hewitt Associates, which produces annual projections of health care costs by “using data from 350 major employers and more than 14 million health plan participants,” health care reform is only a small and temporary part of the increase. From the Tribune:
Overall health care costs continue to rise 6 percent to 8 percent annually, primarily because advances in medical technology and the increasing use of medical services by an aging population.
And in the wake of the recession, employment trends also are affecting health care costs: Companies are hiring fewer younger people, so premiums paid by this segment of the working population who typically use fewer health services are not absorbing the costs of older employees who do.
“An older population tends to have chronic conditions like diabetes,” Vlajkovic said. “And when your hiring rates have slowed, you are not bringing in a younger work force.”
Premiums are being affected by the implementation of the new federal health care law, but the impact is expected to be minimal.
“Health care reform has added to the cost burden, but that is only an additional percent or two,” Vlajkovic said.
Tribune further notes that health care law eventually “could temper cost increases for everybody.” The article also reported that once the health care law is fully implemented, it “could temper cost increases for everybody once the more than 30 million uninsured have coverage because it will spread risk over a larger population.” From the Tribune:
Industry analysts have said the health law could temper cost increases for everybody once the more than 30 million uninsured have coverage because it will spread risk over a larger population. But that will take time. Although several major new consumer benefits started last week, this broadened coverage will not go into effect until 2014.
“Reform creates opportunities for meaningful change in how health care is delivered in the U.S., but most of these positive effects won't be felt for a few years,” said Ken Sperling, Hewitt's health care practice leader. “In the meantime, employers continue to struggle to balance the significant health care needs of an aging work force with the economic realities of a difficult business environment.”