Graphics illustrate critiques, common myths about health reform

For those of you who like pictures (or infographics, as the cool kids call them), we have two for you.

First is an infographic slide show from the Heritage Foundation. It’s a handy way to recap, unfiltered, the conservative critique of the Affordable Care Act.

Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen (@JoanneKenen) is AHCJ’s health reform topic leader. If you have questions or suggestions for future resources, please send them to joanne@healthjournalism.org.

The data comes from a mix of government sources (Congressional Budget Office, the Medicare Actuary), consultants and conservative analysts. Obviously, it portrays the federal health law critically but the material is presented in a way that’s quite useful to journalists.

It shows the increasing numbers of Americans who are likely to get insured through the government (Heritage counts people who get subsidies to purchase in the exchanges as “government health care”). It accurately notes that millions will still be uninsured even a decade from now under the new law. It raises questions about whether you can keep the care you have now if you want. (Warning: There has been a ton of controversy and uncertainty about forecasts of whether businesses will drop insurance coverage of workers because of the law – and many of us would have our insurance changed by our employers or our work circumstances with or without “Obamacare.”)

It charts the various taxes, fees and levies that will finance the coverage expansion. (It doesn’t like them.)  In short, it’s a good overview of how the law is seen from the right, and it might help you understand some of the charges and countercharges in the final weeks of the campaign – and beyond.

The second graphic, alas, isn’t quite so pretty – it’s a one-page chart. But it’s from the Deloitte Center for Health solutions and it identifies “The top ten myths about the health care reform debate.”

Core Topics
Health Reform
Aging
Oral Health
Other Topics

Deloitte works with businesses and it has its own interest in the health sector, but I think this chart touches on, and concisely addresses, some pretty common misconceptions about the health care delivery system, the role of “wellness,” the money we spend and how we spend it. I think it can help you be a more savvy reporter and cut through some of the bromides you hear.

For instance, you will sometimes hear politicians (or advocates or providers) say that “prevention” and “wellness” will solve our problems if we just buck up and take better care of ourselves (or to put it more generously, if we have a health care system focused on wellness, not sickness.) Don’t get me wrong – there’s more than a shred of truth to that, prevention and wellness are important for the quality of our lives, not just the bottom line of our economy.  But it’s not the whole picture; all of us are going to eventually get sick, even those who do have a healthy lifestyle. Here’s how Deloitte puts it in perspective:

Myth: The major driver of health costs in unhealthy lifestyles and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) doesn’t address this at all.

Fact: Costs associated with chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, asthma, and lifestyle choices like drug abuse, smoking, and hang gliding contribute, but other root causes also contribute: incentives to do more tests and procedures instead of only when necessary per the evidence, underlying costs of technologies and facilities that in many cases are driven by financial or competitive opportunities rather than clinical need, and regulatory compliance costs add to the cost spiral.6 It’s not one of these; it’s all of them in tandem. And the ACA has a number of provisions that address lifestyle and chronic challenges-essential health benefits must include programs to address them, the National Quality Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care, released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), must advance innovation in finding new solutions like medical homes and accountable care, and expansion of access to primary care services are three among many new solutions. But the major presumption of ACA relative to lifestyle issues is this: access to health insurance for 32 million newly insured Americans will put a dent in unhealthy lifestyles by taking down a barrier to the system’s providers and programs

Check them both out.

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