Claim: The Inflation Reduction Act extends free health insurance to people under 65
After more than a year of negotiations, a $740 billion climate and health care bill known as the Inflation Reduction Act became law on August 16 with a few strokes of President Joe Biden’s pencil.
Biden described the legislation as a “godsend” and “one of the most significant pieces of legislation in our history.”
The law will do a number of things, including allowing the government to negotiate the prices of expensive prescription drugs and extend subsidies for people who buy their own health insurance.
A recent Facebook post that has been shared nearly 700 times claims to do much more than that.
“$0 Health Insurance is here!” read the Aug. 7 post, which has also garnered more than 1,000 comments. “Congress passes $700 billion package, $0 health insurance extended to Americans under 65.”
But the new law won’t, as the post claims, extend free health insurance to a large portion of Americans, experts say. It only extends existing subsidies for people who buy health insurance in the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.
The post also predates the signing of the legislation and offers no evidence for its claim. It simply prompts users to “see if you’re eligible now,” but doing so only directs users to message the Facebook page, which was just launched in May.
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USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the allegation for comment.
The law will help with the cost of insurance premiums, prescription drugs
There is no evidence that the Inflation Reduction Act extends free health insurance to people younger than 65. A summary of the legislation released by the White House lists several measures related to health care, but does not mention free health insurance.
“The post is largely false,” Gideon Lukens, director of health research and data analysis for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told USA TODAY. “This means that the Inflation Reduction Act expanded benefits and made coverage free for everyone under age 65.”
The law includes a three-year extension of tax credits that increase the number of people who qualify for no-out-of-pocket health insurance through the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, Lukens said. But this is inconsistent with the post’s claim of free extended coverage.
“This only affects a target group that is low-income and eligible for the ACA marketplaces, which is a very small portion of all people under the age of 65,” Lukens said. “Furthermore, even this zero-premium cost target group will have other cost sharing, so they will not be receiving totally ‘free’ health care.
The legislation, however, takes steps to address the cost of health care in other ways.
The U.S. spends significantly more on health care than other wealthy countries, with total spending reaching more than $4 trillion in 2020, or about $12,000 per person, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
According to the White House summary, the law will help 13 million people save an average of $800 a year on health insurance premiums, and 3 million more people will have health insurance than they would have without the law.
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It also allows Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, which has long been opposed by the pharmaceutical industry. That means between 5 million and 7 million people on Medicare could see the cost of their prescription drugs go down, the White House said.
PolitiFact has also debunked the claim.
Our Rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that the Inflation Reduction Act extended free health insurance to people under 65. The law does not extend coverage to this age group; it expands existing subsidies for people who buy health insurance in the government marketplace. But that only applies to a fraction of Americans younger than 65.
Our fact-checking resources:
- Gideon Lukens, August 24, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- The White House, August 15, 2022, BY THE NUMBERS: The Inflation Reduction Act
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, accessed August 23, NHE Fact Sheet
- Association of American Medical Colleges August 17 The Inflation Reduction Act will lower health care costs for some patients. But we must do more
- Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker, January 21, How does US health spending compare to other countries?
- CNN, August 16, Biden signs Inflation Reduction Act
- USA TODAY, August 16, Biden signs climate and health care bill. Now, Democrats race to explain its benefits
- USA TODAY, August 17, Prescription drugs, taxes, climate change: What the anti-inflation law means for you
- USA TODAY, August 7, Senate passes comprehensive bill that lowers drug prices and promotes clean energy, setting up big win for Biden
- Healthcare.gov, accessed August 23, See plans and prices
- PolitiFact, August 19, No, the Inflation Reduction Act Did Not Extend Free Health Insurance to Most Americans
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