Here’s the essence of the issue: Health insurance reform will save American consumers money, will lead to higher quality care, and will reduce the deficit. That’s true for Americans generally, whether or not you’re at risk for breast cancer.
To try to mislead people, Americans for the Prosperous is running a new ad that focuses on breast cancer. In a WTVD segment last night, I called the ad “outrageously false.” I’d like to apologize to viewers for the understatement.
For Americans who have developed or will develop breast cancer, the bill will also take at least six specific steps to improve care, control costs, and protect consumers.
1. Offers preventative breast cancer care: Health insurance reform will invest in a prevention and public health fund and ensure that all Americans have access to free preventive care, like mammograms, through their health plans. This saves everyone money and leads to better care. Early detection will prevent breast cancers from developing further, and ensure patients have the best shot at high quality care.
In case you didn’t notice, number six shows that the claim made in the ad — that health reform will stop patients from getting mammograms — is the opposite of the truth. The facts are that the bill will help prevent breast cancer and help consumers.
2. Gives you more choices. The bill would create a health insurance exchange, which lets you compare prices and plans. This gives consumers more choice, not less. Right now, even if you can afford insurance, you’re limited to the plans employers offer. With the bill, you can make informed health choices for your family. It also prevents Americans from being stuck in a job they can’t leave because of health insurance.
This whole “government control” talking point is flat-out false. The bill will give consumers more choices.
3. Limits deductibles and co-pay costs. In 2007, the average breast cancer patient had to pay $6250 above and beyond what insurance covered. Those were people with insurance; uninsured people were even worse off. 72 million Americans – 41 percent of non-elderly adults – had trouble paying medical bills last year. The bill is going to save those people (and all of us) money.
4. Eliminates the benefit cap: breast cancer is a long-term illness that costs money over an extended period of time. Insurance companies place annual and lifetime benefit caps that, once reached, stop the insurance companies from paying any further. One in 10 patients hits this cap. Health reform would eliminate it, saving cancer patients (and other patients) money.
5. Stops insurance companies from retroactively denying you coverage. Right now, insurers can drop you from coverage if you get sick. In most states’ individual insurance markets, insurance companies can retroactively cancel the entire policy if any condition was missed – even if the medical condition is unrelated, or if the person was not aware of the condition at the time. This process is called rescission. The bill would eliminate that.
6. Eliminates the pre-existing condition problem. If you get breast cancer and need to change jobs or plans, an insurance company can charge you more and/or deny you coverage because you once had breast cancer. The bill stops this unfair practice, ensuring cancer patients have access to coverage.
Besides the mammogram falsehood, the ad’s other main claim is bunk, too. It trots out the old right-wing canard that Europe does less well treating breast cancer than the U.S. does.
Aside from the problems with comparing health problems across populations, it leaves out the fact that Canada, Japan, Australia and Cuba — yes, even Cuba, a third world country — do better at treating cancers, including breast cancer, than we do.
That’s just one reason nonpartisan FactCheck.org calls this claim an “unjustified conclusion.”
Enough is enough. Opponents of health reform know that they can’t win this debate with the truth, so they’re resorting to desperate, false tactics. Don’t be fooled.