Another healthcare myth debunked

No matter what you've heard, there's no way of knowing what your monthly premium would be under a new proposal

Published August 11, 2009 4:32PM (EDT)

Salon has already debunked some of the myths flying around about healthcare reform, but new ones keep popping up. For instance, a reader wrote on another story today that the publicly funded government insurance option President Obama wants included in reform legislation would have monthly premiums of "$1,000 or more" and that it "would deny surgery for seriously sick patients."

Here's a general guideline for whether to believe alarming facts and figures about what the public option will cost, or won't cover: don't believe any of them. At least not for now.

Why? Because Congress is still drafting the reform legislation, and it's not even clear whether the public option will make it into the final bill. There's absolutely no way to know now what the premiums might be, or what will or won't be covered by the plan. Even the final legislation is unlikely to write premium prices into law; regulations drafted after the bill passes would determine the costs. (The White House says the point of the public option is to hold private insurance premiums down, though, so it's unlikely that the monthly costs for the government plan would be that high.)

Yes, since our readers are our customers, this advice does fly in the face of the usual rule -- "the customer is always right" -- but in this case, the customer is wrong.

By Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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