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RMU Economists Available to Discuss Health Care Reform Act 

Pittsburgh – Robert Morris University economists Stephen Foreman and Brian O’Roark have analyzed the health care bill recently signed into law by President Obama. Among their concerns:

·         Even with the subsidies, many individuals still will be unable to afford insurance coverage, meaning that the law essentially becomes on tax on the self-employed and their families.

·         People who choose to pay the fine rather than purchase coverage pose another problem. This takes the necessary funding for the insurance system from the insurers. Unless the fines increase far above what they are now, insurance companies are likely to find that their profits are dropping quickly. 

·         Cuts to Medicare spending to help finance the reforms will translate into lower payments for insurers, hospitals, physicians and others. Medicare is currently the most prolific denier of coverage. It is likely the claims will be denied on a more regular basis. 

·         Under the new system those who didn’t previously qualify or who lost coverage will now be eligible to obtain insurance. They will presumably use it and drive up costs. The insurance industry relies upon those who don’t use the system to subsidize those who do.  With more people using the system for presumably serious conditions, this will increase the insurers’ costs. 

In addition, Cathleen Jones, RMU assistant professor of marketing, is an expert in how nutrition information on restaurant menus influences diners’ choices. Of the new requirement that chain restaurants include calorie counts on their menus, Jones says:

Some people will love it - those who are trying to lose weight or are health conscious, and those with medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Some will hate it. A number of people will ignore the information. 

It will influence choices, especially in terms of eliminating some foods, but the impact will probably lessen over time as the shock value wears off. The lasting impact may be the frequency of consumption of high calorie foods. In other words, people will still eat them, but less often.”

To schedule an interview with Cathleen Jones, Stephen Foreman or Brian O’Roark, contact Jonathan Potts at 412-216-6486 or potts@rmu.edu.