They neglect to mention that someone already gets between you and your doctor: Insurance companies, who have their own bureaucrats whose job is to limit how much is paid out in benefits, in part by deciding which doctors, hospitals, and even brands of drugs they’ll pay for.
The ad repeatedly calls the proposed new system "government-run health care," a favorite catchphrase among reform opponents that is patently false, for two reasons:
- The reform bills under consideration include a public health plan as just one option for individuals and some small business shopping for insurance. The other option would be private insurance, just like we have now, but minus such pesky inconveniences as not being able to get coverage if you have an occasional migraine or were treated for acne as a teenager.
- The government already has its hand in plenty of people’s health care. It’s called Medicare, and while certainly not perfect, it gives more choice in doctors and hospitals and has fewer restrictions on treatments than most private insurance plans do.
To a background of poignant piano music, images of happy-looking patients and health professionals cross the screen and a voiceover lists the specific ways Americans would benefit under a reformed system. Most of these points, like not being denied coverage because of preexisting conditions and not getting dropped if you get sick, are right on. But two other statements overpromise about stuff that’s really still unknown.
- Health care will be between you and your doctor. Funny, that’s the exact opposite of what the first ad says will happen. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle: Nothing in the bill will change the way health plans pay for things, and they’ll still be able to limit which doctors, hospitals, and brands of drugs they’ll cover. But there will be no new types of government interference.
- Less waste and red tape. Sounds great, but it’s tough to quantify. The bills aim to reduce insurance-related red tape by eliminating medical underwriting and standardizing the Byzantine process by which doctors and hospitals collect reimbursements. But the bills don’t do much to reduce unnecessary treatments that, by some estimates, could be cut by 30 percent without compromising quality. One man’s waste, after all, is another’s livelihood.
—Jamie Kopf Hirsh, associate editor