Experts Say Cost of Obama Health Care Plan Could Top $1.5 Trillion

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President Obama's proposal to expand health insurance to all U.S. residents could cost about $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years, according to health policy experts, the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.

According to the AP/Post-Intelligencer, administration officials have "pointedly avoided providing a ballpark estimate for Obama's fix, saying it depends on details to be worked out with Congress."

White House spokesperson Reid Cherlin said, "It's impossible to put a price tag on the plan before even the basics have been finalized," adding, "Here's what we do know: The reserve fund in the president's budget is fully paid for and provides a substantial down payment on the cost of reforming our health care system."

Earlier this month, White House Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said that, although the reserve fund is "likely to be the majority of the cost," the amount of the cost covered by the fund "will depend on the details of whatever is finally done ... as we move through the legislative process."

John Sheils, a senior vice president of the Lewin Group, said the Obama health care reform proposal likely would cost between $1.5 trillion and $1.7 trillion over the next 10 years. In an interview, Sheils said that the cost is "a difficult hurdle to get over." He added, "I don't know where the rest of the money is going to come from."

During a health insurance industry meeting in Washington, D.C., last week, John Rother, public policy director for AARP, said, "Honestly ... we can't do it for the $634 billion the president put in the reserve fund," adding, "In all likelihood, it will be over $1 trillion," likely $1.5 trillion.

Economist Len Nichols, head of the health policy project at the New America Foundation, cited the cost at between $125 billion and $150 billion annually.

David Walker, a former U.S. comptroller general and current head of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, said, "We are dealing with huge numbers," adding, "We need to have a much better sense of what we are talking about doing, and whether or not it's affordable and sustainable over time" (Alonso-Zaldivar, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 3/18).
celine granger
Employees work hard for them not to be laid out from work and because of their jobs, they have health care benefits. Health care benefits are a good help for employees for in their job, they get to work hard and their hard work is being paid not only by paychecks but also by the health care benefits. In case they get sick they'd be able to use this benefit to pay for their hospital bills. There has been a study out this week saying that health care trend is going down. Because of this, employees are not benefited, instead, its their employers who gets the benefits. Companies survive by shifting health care costs to workers. As huge amount is deducted from the workers' paycheck, employers benefits from this by adding the savings as theirs.
Juan Carlo Pascua
Bigger picture, unhealthy workers will cut your productivity and growth by half, if not completely. Bigger picture, the costs to lose biodiversity caused by climate change will be $162B (1.4% US GDP) to $399B (3.5% US GDP) annually: http://bit.ly/1vYFdt. I agree $1.5T is cheap.
Greg Blaisdell
Who ever said we could afford to bail out AIG? Getting in debt for one cause does not mean we can afford to get in more debt. Quite the opposite. How about we pay off one loan before getting into another? Perhaps the government should figure out how it can keep Medicare, Social Security, and the Post Office from all going bankrupt, before trying to start something else it can't afford.
mike stigler
There is no free lunch! Please remember that $150 B of spending per year = >$1,000 for each and every working individual in the US. Be prepared to pay more taxes or stradle our children with an ever growing debt burden.
Paulo Andre
That's a relatively cheap price for such an wonderful thing as universal healthcare. If we can spend 170 billion dollars to save AIG, I think we can spend $170 billion to have a decent healthcare system that helps everyone.

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