(CNSNews.com) – The Obama administration continues to espouse eight pervasive “myths” about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), John R. Graham, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, charges in a new report released Thursday.
“The myths peddled by the Administration to sell ObamaCare are not harmless fairy tales. They have resulted in a program that is harming people’s access to health care,” Graham stated.
“Favorable media coverage of the 8 million people who have enrolled in health insurance via exchanges has allowed the administration and its allies to revive discredited claims about Obamacare’s benefits.”
But “the numbers touted by the administration disguise the fact that many of these people lost previous coverage in the period prior to open enrollment, and people are no longer free to acquire the health insurance they want,” he said.
Myth No. 1: If you like your health plan, you can keep it.
The health insurance policies of six million Americans have already been cancelled, and most of the policies purchased in the individual market by another 19 million people do not comply with ACA requirements, Graham pointed out.
He also quotes a government memorandum suggesting that nearly all employers with employee health care plans that are currently “grandfathered” in will lose that protection by making even small changes to their coverage. Eventually, nearly all businesses will be forced into more expensive, government-regulated plans, he predicts.
Myth No. 2: If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.
Many health care plans sold on federal and state exchanges have a limited number of in-network physicians to choose from, Graham says, pointing out that 70 percent of doctors in California are not in their state exchange's network. And with millions of newly insured people seeking care from a dwindling number of physicians, "there is no realistic way to meet this demand."
Myth No. 3: There is an “employer mandate” to offer affordable coverage.
Employers who don’t offer health benefits can be fined $2,000 for each employee, which is considerably lower than the cost of providing health insurance. So many employees will stop offering coverage, Graham predicts.
The ACA allows self-insured employers to require workers to pay up to 9.5 percent of their annual wages in premiums, he adds, but an employee making $50,000 a year would have to pay $15,000 for family coverage, and employees who declined the coverage would not be eligible for federal subsidies on the exchanges. “Few workers would willingly spend nearly one-third of their take-home pay on health insurance,” Graham says.
Myth No. 4: Health reform will lower the cost of health insurance by $2,500 a year for the average family.
Graham points out that “because of Obamacare’s mandates and regulations, coverage will be more expensive for everyone outside a small portion of older, low-income adults who can obtain highly subsidized coverage in the exchanges.”
Myth No. 5: There is an “individual mandate” that ensures everyone has health coverage
The ACA’s “individual mandate” requires that most legal residents of the U.S. buy a qualifying health insurance policy or pay a fine. However, “the individual mandate was effectively deferred until at least 2016 when the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services allowed people to decide for themselves if they qualify for a ‘hardship exemption’,” Graham writes, “to reduce the liability of fining people before the November 2016 election.”
Since there is a congressional election every two years, he adds, “the individual mandate is highly unlikely ever to be imposed.”
Myth No. 6: Individuals cannot be denied individual coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
"This was only true if they applied for Obamacare coverage before March 31, 2014,” Graham writes. “If they missed that deadline, they cannot get coverage at all until November 15, 2014, unless they experience a life-qualifying event, such as getting married or having a child. In the individual market, prior to Obamacare, people could apply whenever they wanted to.”
Myth No. 7: Health insurers no longer can cancel a policy after an insured individual gets sick.
“Before Obamacare, a health insurer could only rescind a policy if the insured had misrepresented her health status on her application,” Graham says. “On the contrary, Obamacare has caused many cancellations.”
And despite the fact that “nearly three-fourths of states agreed to allow insurers to reinstate canceled health plans…it appears that most insurers were not able to do so.”
Myth No. 8: Medicare has been strengthened.
“In general, the Medicare spending cuts exceed the new benefits by a factor of more than 10 to 1,” Graham points out. “As a result, one of every two people expected to participate in Medicare Advantage over the next 10 years (7.5 million of 14 million) will lose their coverage entirely.”
To make matters worse, “Medicare’s chief actuary believes the planned cuts in fees may cause some doctors to retire and force some hospitals out of business” just as demand for health care increases.
“The real costs of Obamacare will continue to burden Americans, despite the apparent success of the first open enrollment,” Graham concluded.