Obamacare myths and rumors are nothing new, but in the weeks since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act got the all-clear from the Supreme Court, the propaganda mill has picked up steam. Old chestnuts like the famed “death panel” whopper and the rumor that the PPACA will raid Medicare have been joined by new exaggerations and outright falsehoods, like the claim that health care reform will add a new tax to every house sale and that it will provide free health care to illegal aliens.
As I’ve covered the story over the past few weeks, I’ve received a deluge of e-mails from readers curious about the truth behind many anti-Obamacare claims. Some have actually proven true — for example, as I noted in an article published Wednesday, the PPACA will not pay for alternative medicine, and it will actually raise some new taxes.
This week, several readers informed me of a new claim — that the PPACA will send Medicare premiums through the roof over the next two years. The original version of this rumor dates back to 2010, and stated that monthly Medicare premiums were going to rise from $96.40 to $247 by 2014. By the following year, however, it had transformed into a more specific — and more realistic-sounding claim, namely that Medicare Part B premiums would rise to $247.
But, while terrifying older voters is generally a productive tactic for opponents of health care reform, the rumor didn’t really gain the traction that its creators wanted. So recently, they took a fresh turn with the claim that Blue Cross premiums were going to rise to $247. For an added touch of verisimilitude, the creators of the latest piece of propaganda used the logo for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama.
Sorry, Wrong Numbers
This claim is not only false from start to finish, but it also demonstrates a striking misunderstanding of actual Medicare premiums. One version of the email claims that the Part B premium will go from $104.20 in 2012 to $120.20 in 2013 to $247 in 2014. In reality, the Part B premium for 2012 is $99.90, a $14.50 drop from 2011 and a $10.60 drop from 2010.
As the AARP notes in its response to what it describes as a “bogus email,” because premiums are calculated based on Medicare costs, there is no way of predicting how much they will rise — or fall — in the next few years. However, the AARP points out, there are provisions in the PPACA that could conceivably lower Medicare Part B costs in upcoming years.
“It’s just another attempt to scare older Americans and has no basis in fact,” continues the AARP bulletin.
As for the Blue Cross claim, the vice president for corporate communications for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama told reporters that the tale “is not reflective of the company’s position [and] contains incorrect information.”
In other words, the prediction that Medicare premiums (or Part B premiums or Blue Cross premiums) will go to $247 in 2014 is an absolute falsehood.