Institute of Medicine Report Sketches Basic Insurance Package: Can Americans Afford $458/Month in Individual Premiums?

Media reports, like the article published today by the Associated Press entitled "Feds to design health insurance for the masses," are giving various takes on the new 300-page report released by the Institute of Medicine.

You can read the full report online, for free, at the Institute of Medicine's website (or buy a copy for yourself).  The report, Essential Health Benefits" Balancing Coverage and Costs (2011), has been compiled by independent experts with the goal of providing a framework for the Obama Administration on how to create a basic benefits package that covers "essentials" and yet remains affordable.

The cost?  At the low end, they are talking $5500 (high end is $7000) in annual premiums for individual coverage.  Take the lowest figure, $5500, divide it by 12, and you've got a monthly premium (for an individual, not a family) of $458.00.

This week, there was another big news story:  48.5% of the American population received some type of help from the federal government in the months of January through March 2010 according to the latest Census.  That's right at HALF of the American households, a year and a half ago. 

CNN points out that 46,000,000 Americans live below the poverty line and that employment is right around 9% right now.  CNN's Jack Cafferty writes, "Here’s my question to you: How long can we go on with almost half of Americans living in households that get government assistance?"

So here's what I'm wondering:  Can Americans afford $458/individual premium added to their monthly budgets each month?  (No, according to these other numbers, Americans cannot make this payment.) 

Before we even get to the constitutional issues or the political finger-pointing, shouldn't this be the first question?  

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