Monday, December 21, 2009

Will the current health care reform bill actually help most Americans with their health care bills?

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, whose statistical analyses command general respect, does the calculations and concludes that the answer is unambiguously yes.

His recent post on this subject (tactfully entitled "Why Progressives Are Batshit Crazy to Oppose the Senate Bill") sums things up with the following chart comparing what health-care insurance premium would look like in 2016 for a median-income family (a) if the current Senate bill is passed and (b) if nothing is passed and current trends continue ("Status Quo"), along with (c) a third estimate that factors in the long-term effects of the SCHIP child insurance coverage passed in February 2009, which are trickier to calculate:

Of course, even if one accepts all the figures in this chart, that wouldn't settle the question of whether or not passing the currently available HCR bill is, overall and on balance, a good or bad idea. This leaves a lot of important political and policy issues hanging. Nevertheless, the point being made here does help to frame and clarify those debates in a useful way.

--Jeff Weintraub