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11/22/2009
So who's paying for health care?

This is a quiz. Look at the statement below. Tell me what’s wrong with it. It comes via PolitiFact, a service I appreciate and have often touted as helpful and informative. This time they made me scream!
The $15,000 number that Palin cites [as the minimum annual cost for a family for a health care plan under Obamacare] comes from a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, a respected, independent federal office that calculates costs associated with pending legislation. The CBO found that in 2016, when the reforms are fully implemented, the annual cost of a basic family policy on the health care exchange will be $15,000.

So when Palin says people will have to buy policies that "will cost a minimum of about $15,000 per family per year," that applies only to people who buy insurance on their own.

For comparison, the average family policy in 2009 for someone who gets insurance through work is $13,375, according to an analysis from the independent Kaiser Family Foundation. The employer typically pays $9,860 of the policy, while the worker pays the remaining $3,515.

People on the exchange will have to pay for the policies on their own, unless they qualify for tax credits to help them buy coverage. The tax credits are on a sliding scale; the House bill says that people who make up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level will qualify for credits. This year, 400 percent of the federal poverty level means $88,200 for a family of four and $43,320 for a single person.

Palin said that under the House health care bill, the government "will have to penalize citizens if we choose not to buy a plan that will cost a minimum of about $15,000 per family per year." She's correct that they will be penalized if they don't have insurance. But her statement is misleading in two ways. For many who have health insurance through work, they won't have to pay $15,000 for the family plan because their employer will pay a lot of that. (The average employer would pay about three-fourths, if the current ratio continues.) For people of modest means, the government will give them a tax credit, so it won't cost them the full $15,000, either. The people who will have to pay the full amount will be people who have access to no other insurance and make more than 400 percent of the poverty level. Palin's statement implies that everyone will be forced to buy a family plan that costs them $15,000. In fact, only a small percentage of people would be forced to pay that full amount. So we rate her statement Barely True.
Jo Egelhoff, FoxPolitics.net