Pros & Cons of Health Care Reform

More from our experts on the health care reform bill.

Here are a few more in-depth answers about the health care reform bill. For a longer section of the conversation with Jay Richards and Morna Murry, particularly the moral implications of health care reform, click here.

What are the pros to the health care reform law that just passed?

Jay Richards: Virtually any piece of legislation, no matter how flawed, will have some benefits, if considered in isolation. It’s the rare policy that takes a thousand steps backward, but not one step forward. The “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” takes a few steps forward. Most notably, it will probably make it possible for more people to have some form of health insurance. That’s a good thing, insofar as it allows more people to receive the health care they need.

Morna Murray: There are numerous benefits to the health care reform that just passed, probably too many to list individually here.  But here are some of the main benefits:

  • Extending insurance coverage to 32 million Americans who are currently without health insurance
  • Ending insurance company abuses -- eliminating pre-existing conditions, prohibiting rescissions, eg, rescinding existing health insurance policies when a person gets sick
  • Extends the Children's Health Insurance Program Covering preventive health care services, meaning such services are not subject to deductibles.
  • Allowing dependent children to stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26.
  • Requires all insurance companies participating in an exchange to meet minimum benefit requirements.
  • Expansion of Medicaid to include childless adults and parents up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level and giving states financial assistance for that increase.

Richards: Many of the benefits Ms. Murray lists are not benefits per se, but rather coercive requirements that private insurance companies offer only the policies specified by the government, rather than competing by offering all sorts of various plans, and then letting individuals and families freely decide what best meets their needs. She presumably thinks the outcome of these policies is worth the cost. I disagree.

What are the cons?

Murray: There are no real cons to health care reform—this has been decades in the making. There is a lot of misinformation about what the health care reform bill does and with time, as information gets out, this will get corrected so that people understand how necessary this bill is and what it will do for the American people.

Richards: The Affordable Care Act may take half a dozen steps forward, but it takes, say, 2,500 steps backward. Policies should be judged by net benefits and live alternatives. Do the benefits outweigh the costs? Is there an alternative that would give us more benefits with fewer costs?

With this Act, the answers are clearly “no” and “yes” respectively. The Act will make most of the problems it is supposed to fix worse. The main problem with controlling health care costs in the US is that a “third payer” intervenes between recipients and providers, so few people apply the economic reasoning to their health care that they apply to most other exchanges. Do you know the full cost of your last doctor visit? Probably not. That’s a serious problem. This Act will add fuel to the already raging “third-party payer” fire. It will make health insurance more expensive for millions of Americans and increase the total cost of health care; it will vastly increase the coercive power of the state; it will degrade the quality of care by discouraging health care providers and medical research and innovation; it will hasten the plunge toward fiscal insolvency already underway because of the liabilities from the other big entitlements—Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. And it will not do simple things that could help solve the basic problems—like fixing tax laws so we could have a real market for health care, fostering cross-state competition for health insurances and reforming tort law to prevent frivolous malpractice suits.

Morna: This is a fairly simplistic and hyperbolic overview of the benefits of health care reform. This answer talks about the problems of “third payer" but doesn’t explain what is meant by that. He also mentions that health care costs will go up, which they will in some markets but not in others, but he fails to note that health care costs will skyrocket without health care reform. In short, this answer takes every extreme and non-factual attack upon health care reform and treats it as if it were fact which it is not.



Ryan Griffin commented…

Do you mind educating us on these "better ways" that you speak of?


Nonpartison commented…

I encourage each of you to look deeper into this issue. Every U.S. President has tried to pass a similar bill for the past 20 years. This type of coverage was even pushed by Nixon. Ultimately, it comes down to politics. When Republicans Presidents pushed for it, the Democrats were against it, and when Democrats pushed for it, Republican are against. President Obama was able to get it done. Mitt Romney was praised when he passed a similar bill in Massachusetts, now he's getting bashed in a political death match. President Obama's bill is extremely similar to Romneys. President Obama even hired members of Romney's administration to help him write the bill. So yes, Republicans help write the bill. Overall, it's not bad, but it's not perfect. It was needed, and it will benefit people of both political parties. I dont do politics, because of this reason. People ride thewaves of their political views.

HR Willson


HR Willson commented…

I was hoping to find some shred of common ground, here. I was optimistic that this exchange might illuminate even one point from the Obamacare cornerof whichI could say "okay, I agree with that". It is amusing and, sadly, entirely unhelpful that Ms. Murray simply dismisses Mr. Richards' concerns as "simplistic" and "hyperbolic", but I don't know that more can fairly be expected of one who seriously asserts that there is not one single "con" in the thousands of pages of legislation that make up this bill. Credibility = 0.


Trojaspt commented…

First of all, we need to stop calling this a health care issue. Health care is available to everyone. Health insurance is what is really being debated.

I work in the health industry. Here's what I've noticed. A vast majority of medical issues are due to how we live our lives. Too many eat poor diets, live sedentary lives, and don't even get me started on smoking. If you consistently do one of these, your chances of needing coverage skyrocket. If you are doing all three, you are on your way to a heart attack, cancer obesity, and so on. You are also a nearly 100% risk to an insurance company.The problem isn't denying pre-existing conditions, it's that insurance companies aren't allowed to charge an appropriate premium to the all too common overweight smoker. So, instead of covering someone who will 100% cost you more money than you bring in, they deny them. Also, what do you think will happen wheninsurancecompanies are forced to cover those they will 100% lose money on? You guessed it. Raise the price for those that are lower risk.Does it get more complicated than that? Yes, it does. But, if these companies that are based on riskassessmentare allowed to charge an appropriate fee based on each persons individual risk, pre-existing conditions go to the wayside and you are now directly responsible for yourinsurancecosts.Or, do we forget that these are private companies where the goal is to provide a service in order to make a profit? When did that become wrong? Or is there a list of industries that are allowed to make a profit that I have not seen? Further more, when did it become ok to be a 26 year old adult still being supported by your parents? What happened to graduating high school and paying for your own bills? Or did my parents do something wrong?This issue, like so many others, wouldn't be an issue if we took care of our bodies trusted to us and didn't fall into the ever growing trap of entitlement.Now, approaching this from a Christ centered perspective, I firmly believe that my skills, knowledge and ability are a gift from Christ. Many times I do probono work for those who need it. You want to know who I don't provide free services for? The ones who could afford that service if they were to quit smoking, eating fast food and putting money towards any host of other unhealthy habits. I am deeply compassionate for my clients. But I also have a family to care for and the families of my employees as well. I feel that I wouldn't be honoring Christ if I were to bring my staff in and say I need to cut their pay in order to discount our services.Iapologizefor my soap box rant, but all too often we look at the surface and not take the time to dig deeper to look at all issues.


believer commented…

If the assumption is that the primary objective of the health industry, and the related part of the insurance industry, is to make a profit (fair or otherwise) then I could agree with your statements. However, I believe that access to health care should be a basic human right in a country with as much resources as the U.S. We choose where to place our priorities and resources, and an incredible amount of that is directed at entertainment, and leisure, luxury goods and items that far surpass need. Even our homes- for those of us fortunate to have the skills and drive to purchase elegant and roomy homes- reflect the surplus available to those ofus that have "made it" through hard work and personal skill. I just feel like that we, as Christians, can not in good conscience relegate the ill, the poor, any one that has fallen short of financial success and the fortune of good health (both if which I am fortunate enough to enjoy) to financial disaster or lack of adequate preventative and treatment. It is not easy to construct a system that avoids over regulation, beauracratic mismanagement, and poor delivery at a reasonable cost, but, we have to start somewhere. A solution has been long overdue and I feel like everyone needs to get on board and do their best to make this work. How long were we going to wait? Finally, a bill gets passed with a workable solution and I fear it will be rolled back and what gains were made will be gone by the wayside in the name of preserving our affluence rather than moving ahead to solve taking care of our people.

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