Statement from Leading Health Care Experts On Misleading AHIP Report

Recently America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) released a study that claims the reform plan being developed by the Senate Finance Committee would dramatically raise the cost of health insurance. We believe the study is flawed and that the results are not credible.

The AHIP study is misleading in several ways. First, it ignores critical elements of the insurance market reforms in the Senate Finance Committee bill that would protect people from many of the problems AHIP purports to analyze; it would grandfather existing coverage, provide reinsurance and risk-adjustment, and introduce special policies for young adults. More importantly, the AHIP study ignores the many provisions in the Senate Finance Committee’s reform plan that would help to streamline medical care delivery and reduce its cost, including changes in payment methods, provisions to encourage use of information technology and comparative effectiveness, and the establishment of insurance exchanges to lower the administrative costs associated with health insurance. In fact, one of the policies that AHIP criticizes, the imposition of taxes on ‘Cadillac health plans’ would, in the view of most economists, be a powerful force to reduce the cost of health care. Finally, it is important to note that most of the spending in the draft legislation will go for subsidies that directly lower the cost of health insurance for families and individuals with low or modest income. The report simply ignores this massive source of savings for millions of American households.

Important issues are at stake in health reform. There is ample room for legitimate debate. But responsible participants in that debate should avoid selective use of evidence and try to preserve analytic balance.

Henry J. Aaron, Brookings Institution

David Cutler, Harvard University

Judy Feder, Georgetown University, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress

Elliott S. Fisher, Dartmouth Medical School

Arnold Milstein, Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine

Len Nichols, New America Foundation

Meredith Rosenthal, Harvard University