As Obamacare’s launch is described even by the Obamacare architects as a “debacle,” Washington Post health policy reporter Sarah Kliff penned a Sunday article titled “5 Myths About the Affordable Care Act."
You could stop dead at Alleged Myth Number One. “Americans will be forced to buy health insurance.” Kliff claimed “The health-care law's individual mandate, despite its name, isn't meant to force Americans into health plans.” What? If you have to pay a staggering fine, it’s not a force issue?
Instead, it is supposed to encourage people to purchase coverage by giving them two options: Buy insurance or pay a fine. In 2014, that fine is $95 or 1 percent of an individual's income, whichever is higher.
The Internal Revenue Service is responsible for collecting this penalty from individuals who indicate on their annual tax filings that they have not purchased coverage. The agency can take the penalty out of a filer’s refund, but beyond that, its ability to recoup those dollars is extremely limited. The IRS cannot, for example, send agents to people’s homes or put liens on their houses. In the health-care law, Congress specifically curtailed the ability to enforce this penalty, giving the IRS fewer ways to collect it than there are for other tax fines.
So if the IRS doesn’t exactly invade your house in the middle of the night, you weren’t “forced to buy health insurance.”
Alleged Myth Number Five is also a doozy: “The health-care law will increase the deficit.” Even if this turns out to be true in 2023, it’s simply not a “myth” to estimate it will cost more to cover more Americans.
Kliff relies on early estimates: “The Congressional Budget Office estimates that, over the next decade, the health-care law will reduce the deficit by $109 billion. That’s because the Affordable Care Act includes new spending cuts and tax increases, which more than offset the cost of expanding health insurance to millions of Americans.”
By this logic, Medicare wasn't going to be a budget-buster based on the early estimates by Congress. Of course, Congress kept adding new benefits, and the media never seem to allow any entitlement program to be "cut," ever.