Monday, December 14, 2009

Reality Check: Another Day, Another Deceptive "Analysis" from the Insurance Industry

Reality Check: Another Day, Another Deceptive "Analysis" from the Insurance Industry
Posted by Linda Douglass on December 14, 2009 at 02:50 PM EST
For months, the insurance industry has been involved in study after study that purports to "analyze" health insurance reform (see here, here, here and here). For all their efforts, they have succeeded in proving one thing: If you selectively use some facts while ignoring others, you can get an "analysis" that reaches your predetermined conclusions.

Today's skewed study comes from the Lewin Group, owned by a subsidiary of the largest insurance carrier in the United States.

In addition to cherry-picking provisions to analyze, the Lewin Group uses an innovative new technique: analyzing legislation with "assumptions" that blatantly contradict what actually appears in either the House or Senate bills.

Among the many points this study conveniently ignores or deliberately misstates:

•Differs significantly from the predictions of the Congressional Budget Office. The analysis differs significantly from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office on at least 2 other fronts.
◦Contradicts CBO on deficit effects. While the Lewin analysis states that the Senate bill would increase federal deficits in the second decade, this runs counter to the CBO, which predicts that the Senate bill would decrease federal deficits in the second decade,
◦Significantly higher public plan enrollment. The Lewin analysis estimates 15 million people going into the public plan – 5 times the estimate of CBO. This calls into question the model that Lewin uses.
•Incorrect implementation date. The Lewin Group analysis contains assumptions that do not mirror the actual legislation, for instance that reforms will be fully implemented by 2011. The House bill implements the exchanges in 2013, while the Senate implements the exchanges in 2014.
•Does not consider savings from the Exchanges. The Lewin analysis does not mention any administrative savings from the creation of the health insurance exchanges – savings which the Congressional Budget Office has estimated to reduce premiums for people in the individual market by 7 to 10% alone.
•Examines only select aspects of the reform bills. The Lewin analysis does not consider the effects of various delivery system reforms, including bundling payments, introducing value-based purchasing, and reducing preventable readmissions – reforms which numerous bipartisan economists have cited as critical to cost-containment, and which the Business Roundtable has estimated would contribute to a $3,000 reduction in health care costs per employee.
Linda Douglass is Communications Director for the White House Office of Health Reform

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