As participants in today's health care summit took a lunch break, Fox News' Bret Baier brought on Jim Angle to perform what Baier described as a "fact check." But Angle's analysis came up short on a central fact that completely undermines his conclusion that health care reform will raise premiums -- namely, that the very bill Angle analyzed includes subsidies to offset premium costs.
Angle purported to fact check a back-and-forth at the summit between President Obama and Sen. Lamar Alexander about whether the Senate health care bill would increase premiums for people who buy health insurance on the individual market, rather than through their employer. Angle's bottom line: "rates would increase by 10 to 13 percent." He even repeated it to make it official:
ANGLE: Now, what the CBO -- and I can show you a chart here. CBO did a chart on what would happen to rates in individual, small-business, and large-group markets. And you see, in the non-group market -- that's the individual market. If you'll show -- the CBO found that after bringing in all sorts of people -- younger people, healthier people -- after all factors are considered, the bottom line is that rates would increase by 10 to 13 percent. Ten to 13 percent. That is what Senator Alexander was saying.
The president disputed that number, saying, "Well, no, it's a different thing." He came back after being handed a piece of paper by an aide and said, "Well, yes, in fact, the reason I'm paying 10 to 13 percent more is because I'm getting better insurance." Actually, the CBO found that that would cost 30 percent more, up to 30 percent more, but that after you take everything out, the net increase for individuals would be 10 to 13 percent. The president has now essentially embraced that number and seems to have confirmed that Senator Alexander was right; he was not -- with the one stipulation that it'd be different, better insurance, because it may be required by the federal government.
Actually, the bottom line on this topic is that the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the bill would reduce premiums for most policies purchased on the individual market. Angle only reached his "bottom line" after ignoring one of the bill's most important components -- substantial subsidies that would help many people in the individual market pay for their insurance. The CBO estimated that the federal subsidies would cover two-thirds of the premium costs and reduce premiums for most people purchasing insurance on the individual market. PolitiFact.com explained it well:
People who have to go out and buy insurance on their own (the individual market) would see rates increase by 10 to 13 percent. But more than half of those people -- 57 percent, in fact -- would be eligible for subsidies to help them pay for the insurance. People who get subsidies would see their premiums drop by more than half, according to the CBO. So most people would see their premiums stay the same or potentially drop.
The very on-screen chart Angle referred to specifically noted that the "10 to 13 percent" figure didn't take the effect of subsidies into consideration:
As we here at County Fair have said before, so much for zero tolerance.