It has been a year since President Obama's health care reform bill was signed into law. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act represents the most significant transformation of the American health care system since Medicare and Medicaid. It will fundamentally change nearly every aspect of health care, from insurance to the final delivery of care.
The length and complexity of the legislation, combined with a debate that often generated more heat than light, has led to massive confusion about the law's likely impact. But it is now possible to analyze what is and is not in it, what it likely will and will not do. In particular, we now know that
* While the new law will increase the number of Americans with insurance coverage, it falls significantly short of universal coverage. By 2019, roughly 21 million Americans will still be uninsured.
* The legislation will cost far more than advertised, more than $2.7 trillion over 10 years of full implementation, and will add more than $823 billion to the national debt over the program's first 10 years.
* Most American workers and businesses will see little or no change in their skyrocketing insurance costs, while millions of others, including younger and healthier workers and those who buy insurance on their own through the nongroup market will actually see their premiums go up faster as a result of this legislation.
* The new law will increase taxes by more than $569 billion between now and 2019, and the burdens it places on business will significantly reduce economic growth and employment.
* While the law contains few direct provisions for rationing care, it nonetheless sets the stage for government rationing and interference with how doctors practice medicine.
* Millions of Americans who are happy with their current health insurance will not be able to keep it.
In short, the more we have learned about what is in this new law, the more it looks like bad news for American taxpayers, businesses, health-care providers, and patients.