Elizabeth Cohen | BIO
CNN Medical Correspondent
All this week I’ve been trying to get my head around $52 billion is. How many flu shots is that, or appendectomies, or tongue depressors?
Fifty-two billion dollars is how much President-elect Barak Obama’s health care plan is estimated to cost, at least – it might be as high as $106 billion, according to factcheck.org. There’s no question something’s got to be done. Forty-five million Americans are uninsured, and we’ve all heard the horror stories of sick people who can’t get the care they need because they don’t have insurance, or they have lousy insurance. Everyone agrees that shouldn’t happen.
But where would this money come from? Obama says he’ll roll back a tax break President Bush gave to wealthy Americans. But will that be enough? Obama also says his administration will help get health care costs under control – there’s a lot of waste out there – and that this savings will be passed on to you and me. But will it really happen that way? Hospitals and insurance companies, if they manage to figure out ways to cut costs, might just keep the savings for themselves.
Lots of questions, and not a lot of answers. Here’s another one: will Obama tackle health care reform early on? It’s expensive, and our economy’s a mess. Plus, remember Hillary Clinton’s 1993 attempt at health care reform? It was a failure. Health care reform is no way to win a popularity contest. It’s tricky. You’re bound to get someone mad, whether it’s doctors, pharmaceutical companies, or consumers.
By the way, to get my head around that huge $52 billion number, I asked two of the smartest people on health care reform to break down the costs. Kenneth Thorpe, a professor at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, and John Shiels, senior vice president of
The Lewin Group, helped us estimate costs for three big components of Obama’s health care plan.
Insuring all children: Between $6 and $9 billion.
Helping small employers provide health insurance to their employees: $6 billion
Developing health information technology (such as electronic medical records): $10 billion
That’s a whole lot of flu shots.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with