March 5th, 2010
10:31 AM ET

Dear President Obama #410: How much will health care cost me?

Reporter's Note: President Obama is steaming toward the finish line with health care reform. I am steaming forward with my letters to the White House. One every day.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/09/16/health.medical.bills/art.bills.gi.jpg]

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I was chasing my dog around the family room early this morning playing our much beloved game of “Who has the tennis ball?” (sure, it sounds simple, but for her it’s like Monopoly) and suddenly I sat down on the carpet, stunned by a realization. Or perhaps it was because I had just whacked my head on the coffee table. Nonetheless, I was struck by the simple realization that I really do not know what your health care plan will cost me.

Honestly. I’ve studied it more than most ordinary voters. I’ve talked to experts. I’ve gone over the stats with a calculator. I’ve even boiled pots of herbs, and inhaled the vapors beneath a full moon, waiting for a revelation. No such luck.

You have told us plenty of times that it will reduce the deficit after ten years. But that’s an assessment of what it will do to or for the federal budget, not my own. For example, if a town wanted to build a ten million dollar road and it just increased property taxes and tolls by ten million dollars to pay for it; or if the new road saved ten million dollars in repairs to the old roads; that measure would be deficit neutral. But voters might see a profound impact on their personal deficits, if you know what I mean.

What I am suggesting is that as you push toward a final vote on this thing, you will have a much better chance of tipping public opinion back in your favor (and you may notice it has been running downhill if you put out a clear, concise explanation in real dollars and cents about how this is going to affect me. Well, not just me. I don’t suppose John McHardwarestore in Idaho cares about my personal finances. But you know what I’m saying: How much this plan…the one you are pushing now…really save or cost any given family? Soup to nuts. None of that car dealer, “Oh, you want wheels on that?” nonsense. Give me the total and let me decide if I like it or not.

If the plan is as good as you say, letting people fully understand how it will impact them will be good too. I know this seems like an outrageously simple idea, which is why I am so surprised I’ve seen so little evidence of your team doing it. Have I merely overlooked it? As it is, I feel like I’ve heard too much about its impact on government (which, yes, I understand could ultimately affect taxpayers) but not nearly enough about the impact on citizens.

So let us know if you can. Both the dog and I are now curious. And if you just want to call and explain, that would be fine too.



Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Tim Gibson

    We hear about the building of yet another monument in the Federal Empire. An empire in decline by the gavel and the whips. The win, win plan to save it and thus save us all. A neutral payoff in 10 years time, or at least that is the business plan as it is presented.

    When Mr. McHardWareStore provides free nuts and bolts to those who cannot afford them how does he cover the overhead. Nuts and bolts do not grow on trees. Does he eliminate the competition so that everyone must get their nuts and bolts at his store or inflate the price to cover the loss, or worse yet, both.

    Maybe it is another hoax, like a bad chain letter where a fictitious child will get a dollar everytime it is forwarded, overlooked by the "experts" at snopes. The twist this time is that it has a virus attached that actually withdrew that dollar from the bank information stored on your personal computer. Thus netting millions for the unidentified hoaxer.

    How much is it going to cost you dpends upon how long you had the virus.

    March 5, 2010 at 9:44 am |
  2. Marie N (Portland,Oregon)

    Realistically speaking there is no way anyone can give you hard numbers on your cost savings if this bill goes into effect. It will vary for everyone based on number of people insured within a household, age and benefits covered. Fact is that projections are made on a scenario. What scenario legislators were using to get their numbers probably is noted somewhere...I personally haven't look for it yet. But the general idea is that the more people paying premiums the lower the cost because most people aren't critically ill. For example, I've paid insurance premiums for 40 years and with the exception of giving birth to my two sons have only used it to cover preventive care like mammograms, pap smears and flu shots.

    March 5, 2010 at 9:26 am |
  3. Patricia Becker

    My fear as well. U.S. citizens already cannot afford to pay for health care. What will this latest round of proposals mean to the average person or main street?

    I am out of work for one year March 8th!! I am sixty today. I have used all my IRA money to continue to try and pay for two mortgages which are 15 times more than my unemployment check. I am in Florida=cannot rent or sell. Need to pay the two mortgages to try to keep up the credit report as credit reports are checked before employing someone. Health care? My son's is $217 a month and doesn't cover $300 a month of prescriptions. As for me, after COBRA I did not qualify for health insurance, so I have a discounted health plan for $329 a month which doesn't cover $200 a month in prescriptions. This is not deductibles, co-pays, other uncovered medical expenses, or catastrophic illness.

    Soon I cannot pay for any of this. So what will the new proposed health bill cost us? If I cannot afford health care now will I be able to afford after this bill is passed??

    March 5, 2010 at 8:51 am |
  4. Herman

    Health care. It's been through the wringer,fluffed and dried. Yet for some reason the wrinkles still remain. While the House and Senate DECIDE what's best for us, ordinary Americans like me wait. Will my health costs shoot through the roof? Will a family member die because his/her preventable illness wasn't prevented in time? How can something so basic like health care be SO difficult to reform? It's like breathing...YOU DO IT. SO DO IT ALREADY!

    March 5, 2010 at 8:46 am |