Fox News hyped a poll showing that a majority of people think the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, would increase the deficit and raise their taxes and insurance premiums, claiming that these polls debunked what President Obama has said about the law. But nonpartisan estimates have consistently shown that the ACA lowers the deficit, IRS rules show that the law's payroll tax increases only affect high-income Americans, and reports show the law is already saving many Americans money.
Fox Uses Opinion Polling To Dispute The Facts On The Affordable Care Act
Fox Host Patti Ann Browne: Public Opinion Disagrees With Obama On Economics Of ACA. On August 9, Fox & Friends First co-host Patti Ann Browne hyped Fox News' polling results on the ACA, noting that "despite what Obama said," 65 percent of Americans believe that the healthcare reform law increases the deficit and will lead to higher taxes:
BROWNE: Brand new Fox News polls show a majority of Americans think Obamacare is bad medicine for the country. Fifty-seven percent of those polled said implementation of the health care law has been a joke. That includes 25 percent of Democrats. Just 31 percent said the implementation is going well. Nearly 75 percent say they expect Obamacare to mean higher taxes. More than 60 percent also expect the health care law will cause the deficit to increase, and mean higher insurance costs, even though President Obama said otherwise. [Fox News, Fox & Friends First, 8/9/13]
Fox News Poll: "Majorities" Of Americans Believe ACA Will Increase Taxes, Premiums, And The Federal Deficit. On August 8, FoxNews.com released new polling data based on interviews conducted August 3 through August 5. The articlehighlighting the poll's release noted that "[m]ajorities of Americans think the new health care law is going to increase their medical costs and their taxes -- and add to the federal deficit as well." From the Fox News poll the article was based on:
But Fox's Opinion Polling Doesn't Change The Facts About The Affordable Care Act
Affordable Care Act Reduces The Federal Deficit
Congressional Budget Office: "The ACA Includes Many Other Provisions That, On Net, Will Reduce Federal Budget Deficits." In a letter to Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) about how the delay in a mandate that requires employers to provide insurance to their employees affects estimates of the law's effects, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Douglas Elmendorf wrote: "The ACA includes many other provisions that, on net, will reduce federal budget deficits. Taking the coverage provisions and other provisions together, CBO and JCT [Joint Committee on Taxation] estimated that the ACA will reduce deficits over the next decade." [Congressional Budget Office, 7/30/13]
CBO: Repealing Health Care Law "Would Increase Federal Budget Deficits By $109 Billion Over The 2013-2022 Period." In July 2012, the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation released a report finding that repealing the ACA would increase the deficit by $109 billion from 2013 to 2022:
On net, CBO and JCT estimate, repealing the ACA would increase federal budget deficits by $109 billion over the 2013-2022 period. Repealing the coverage provisions discussed in this report would save $1,171 billion over that period, but repealing the rest of the act would increase direct spending and reduce revenues by a total of $1,280 billion. [Congressional Budget Office, 7/24/12]
Affordable Care Act Is Already Saving Americans Money On Premiums
ACA Is Driving Down Premiums In New York And Other States. The New York Times reported that the ACA is driving down the cost of some individual market insurance premiums in multiple states, including New York, where they are expected to fall by about 50 percent:
Individuals buying health insurance on their own will see their premiums tumble next year in New York State as changes under the federal health care law take effect, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Wednesday.
State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York. Beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly. With federal subsidies, the cost will be even lower.
Administration officials, long confronted by Republicans and other critics of President Obama's signature law, were quick to add New York to the list of states that appear to be successfully carrying out the law and setting up exchanges.
We're seeing in New York what we've seen in other states like California and Oregon -- that competition and transparency in the marketplaces are leading to affordable and new choices for families," said Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services. [The New York Times, 7/16/13]
In 2012, The ACA Saved Nearly 78 Million Americans $3.4 Billion On Health Insurance Premiums. In June, McClatchyDC's Planet Washington blog reported:
Nearly 78 million Americans saved $3.4 billion on their collective health insurance premiums in 2012, thanks to an Affordable Care Act provision that penalizes insurers for wasteful spending, the Obama administration announced Thursday.
The ACA's '80/20 rule,' which took effect in 2011, requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premium payments on medical care or quality improvements and no more than 20 percent on administrative costs and overhead. Companies that violate the rule must pay rebates to their customers.
The $3.4 billion in savings on 2012 premium costs reflects lower rates as more companies met the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule and other ACA provisions have saved consumers $5 billion on their premiums since 2011, HHS reports. [McClatchyDC, Planet Washington, 6/20/13]
ABC News: Rebates From Insurers Will Come In Form Of A Check, Reduction In Future Premiums, Or Higher Benefits. ABC News reported that "[a]n estimated 8.5 million Americans will receive rebates from their health insurers this summer thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which says companies that fail to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on health care must refund the difference to consumers." ABC News then broke down how the rebates would be realized:
It turns out only as many as one-third of those due rebates, or 2.7 million Americans, will actually receive physical checks, or direct refunds to their credit or debit cards. These are people who purchased a health policy on their own, with after-tax dollars, in the individual insurance marketplace.
The remaining 5.7 million Americans, who receive health insurance through an employer in the small-group or large-group markets, will not necessarily receive any direct financial reimbursement at all, according to the Center for Insurance Information and Consumer Oversight.
Instead, those with employer-sponsored health plans might see a "reduction in their future premiums" or in the form of "more generous benefits," as determined by the employer. Some could subsequently receive a cash refund from their employer, but the likelihood of that option is unclear. [ABC News, 7/18/13]
The Hill: Healthy, Young People Whose Premiums Will Rise Are Eligible For Tax Credits To Offset Added Costs. The Hill's Healthwatch blog reported that ACA takes into account that premiums will likely rise for young people in the individual insurance market by offering a tax credit subsidy to offset costs:
Most of the young, healthy people whose premiums will rise under President Obama's healthcare law will be eligible for tax credits to help with the added costs, according to a new analysis.
The analysis, released Thursday by the consulting firm Avalere Health, found that two-thirds of young, uninsured adults will be eligible for subsidies under the healthcare law.
In California, which recently released the preliminary rates for plans in its insurance exchange, young people would see a lower-than-expected increase in the cost of the cheapest plan.
Those who receive subsidies from the federal government would often pay even less than they're paying now, and some poor young people might not have to pay a premium at all, California officials said.
Nationwide, two-thirds of uninsured people younger than 30 will be eligible for subsidies, Avalere said. Overall, 46 percent of all uninsured people will likely qualify for some level of subsidy. [The Hill, Healthwatch, 6/6/13]
Majority Of Americans Will Not Be Affected By Affordable Care Act Tax Increases
IRS: Medicare Payroll Tax Increase Applies Only To Highest Earners. IRS rules apply a 0.9 percent Medicare payroll tax increase included in the ACA only to high earners, including single individual earners whose annual income exceeds $200,000, households earning more than $250,000, or married individuals who file separately making $125,000 annually:
[Internal Revenue Service, 7/23/13]
Reuters: ACA Investment Surtax Only Affects Highest Earners. Reuters reported that in December 2012, the IRS released its rules on the surtax for investment income included in the ACA, which only affects high-income earners:
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service has released new rules for investment income taxes on capital gains and dividends earned by high-income individuals that passed Congress as part of the 2010 healthcare reform law.
The 3.8 percent surtax on investment income, meant to help pay for healthcare, goes into effect in 2013. It is the first surtax to be applied to capital gains and dividend income.
The tax affects only individuals with more than $200,000 in modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), and married couples filing jointly with more than $250,000 of MAGI.
The tax applies to a broad range of investment securities ranging from stocks and bonds to commodity securities and specialized derivatives. [Reuters, 12/3/12]