Fact Check: The Truth Behind Obama's Health Care Plan

A fact check on President Obama's main messages of Wednesday night's health care forum at the White House reveal a president eager to make his case to the public -- but sometimes glossing over the thorny details of how to achieve reform.

Visit ABC News' special health care section here.

Watch the full show, "ABC News' Questions for the President: Prescription for America," here.

VIDEO: Obamas Prescription for America

Read the full transcript here.

Fact check no. 1: Health care costs versus wages

President Obama told the audience that

health care costs are increasing at a rate three times faster than wages in America. It's a line he has used regularly as he campaigns for the health care plan.

VIDEO: Obamas Prescription for America

Families USA, a group that advocates for health care reform, found that health care is rising at a rate five times faster than wages in America in a report issued in October 2008.

Also in 2008, the Department of Labor found that benefits such as health care represent more than 30 percent of an employer's compensation costs.

And the Kaiser Family Foundation found that family health care costs increased by 78 percent between 2001 and 2008.

Fact check no. 2: Average med school debt

VIDEO: Obamas Prescription for America

Georgetown University medical student Mary Vigil told President Obama she would have about $300,000 in debt when she graduated from medical school -- a staggering figure and part of the reason that physicians are forced to eye the bottom line as they treat their patients.

But Vigil, the first person in her family to attend college, has a much higher debt than the average graduating medical student, according to the American Medical Association.

The AMA reported that in 2007 the average debt carried by graduating medical school students was $139,000, less than half the debt Vigil will have.

While Vigil's debt may be larger than average, three quarters of graduating medical students have debt of more than $100,000, according to the AMA.

President Obama Talks Health Care

Fact check no. 3: Can you keep your health plan?

Obama used different language Wednesday night to argue that his health care plan won't force people off of their current health plans.

"If you are happy with your plan, and if you are happy with your doctor, we don't want you to have to change," the president said.

Then, he made a slightly different claim: "If you're happy with your plan and your doctor, you stick with it."

Last week, the president gave a speech in which he made a more sweeping guarantee: "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period."

But -- as the president acknowledged at his news conference Tuesday -- that's not really a pledge he can promise to deliver on. Private companies are always free to choose different health plans for their employees, and that's not something Obama's plan would change.

"When I say if you have your plan and you like it, ... or you have a doctor and you like your doctor, that you don't have to change plans, what I'm saying is the government is not going to make you change plans under health reform," the president said Tuesday.

Fact check no. 4:'Comparative effectiveness'

When Obama talked to Jane Sturm, whose mother received a pace maker six years ago at the age of 99, he said it's important for the government to work with doctors and hospitals to determine the best care possible, as a rule, for specific ailments.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
  • |
  • 4
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...