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Report Second-Guesses Health Reform Laws but Finds Good Bang for the Buck

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, June 8, 2010

"However achieving these results would require enacting policy options that would place a higher burden on the lowest segment of the population. These would include less generous subsidies, higher individual penalties and a less generous Medicaid expansion."

Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, suggested that the study's findings may be too simplistic, and don't factor in the number of people who will avoid purchasing health insurance and risk the chance they will get caught.

"More could certainly be done to incentivize people to purchase health insurance and participate in the healthcare system," he said. For starters, he suggested that for those individuals who wait until they get sick and "are on their way to the hospital" before buying premiums, there would be "late enrollment penalties."

Another problem deals with the new provisions to take effect that impose limits on the amount health insurance companies can charge for premiums for older people, which can be no more than three times what they charge younger enrollees. "This could increase the cost for young adults by 50%," Zirkelbach said.

Lastly, he said, the formula in the report does not consider what will happen if healthcare costs continue to soar. "There is nothing in health reform legislation that does anything to bend the cost curve," he says.

Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

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