Health care expert Steven Brill tells CBS This Morning everyone except the taxpayer benefited from Obamacare.
Brill, the author of America's Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System, says "there's nothing in the legislation that brings down the cost of healthcare."
"We basically have created a system where the good news is that many more people get the kind of healthcare you and I get. The bad news is that the taxpayers are paying for it and they're paying the same exorbitant prices that make the system so unworkable," Brill said.
"The best test of all this is the only way that a bill this big will pass in Washington is if the powers that be, you know, decide that it should pass. So the drug companies are making more money, the hospitals are making more money, the medical device makers are making more money and everybody is happy except the taxpayer," Brill said Monday morning.
On Sunday, 60 Minutes will give "an inside look at how the healthcare industry lobbyists helped shape the Affordable Care Act."
NORAH O’DONNELL: America just starting year two of ObamaCare. The government says more than 6.5 million people signed up for 2015 coverage through the federal website. Coverage is expanding and so are costs. The deductible for the least expensive plan is $100 higher than last year and the average premium for private insurance rose 3%. Meanwhile a Gallup poll in November found 33% of Americans delayed medical treatment because of the cost. Steven Brill has spent years investigating the health care industry and the creation of ObamaCare. His new book is America's Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, And The Fight To Fix Our Broken Healthcare System. Steven Brill is with us this morning. Steven, good morning.
STEVEN BRILL: Good morning.
O’DONNELL: So the president promised that not only would health care be more accessible but it would also be more affordable. Is that true?
BRILL: Well, it's certainly more accessible to tens of millions of Americans and it's more affordable to them because they're getting their insurance premiums paid for in large part by the government. So it's certainly not more affordable for the taxpayers. We basically have created a system where the good news is that many more people get the kind of healthcare you and I get. The bad news is that the taxpayers are paying for it and they're paying the same exorbitant prices that make the system so unworkable.
O’DONNELL: But you know the main criticism about healthcare in America is that the costs are too high.
O’DONNELL; Did ObamaCare do anything to bring down the cost of healthcare?
BRILL: No. There are a couple of pilot projects, there are little things, but as I recount in the book, at every turn when they try to do something substantive to brick the cost down such as control the price of drugs, deal with the exorbitant non-profit hospitals high profits, they were stopped by the lobbyists. And the best test of all this is the only way that a bill this big will pass in Washington is if the powers that be, you know, decide that it should pass. So the drug companies are making more money, the hospitals are making more money, the medical device makers are making more money and everybody is happy except the taxpayer.
CHARLIE ROSE: Okay, but is it what the president said it was going to be or are you saying no, it's not but it's not his fault it’s what happened in terms of lobbyists and others?
BRILL: The president said two things. More people would have access to health care.
ROSE: And they do.
BRILL: And they do. The president said it would bring down the cost of healthcare and it does not.
ROSE: But is that because of the legislation or something else?
BRILL: It’s because of the legislation. There's nothing in the legislation that brings down the cost of healthcare.
ROSE: Okay, then the question in this book before we talk about you personally and what you experienced with your own heart and how that was an insight into what's going on. Is what's wrong with the cost -- I mean what are the things that you discovered that we're paying a lot more for than we should be paying for?
BRILL: We're paying a lot more for everything because we have, you know, this naive assumption that healthcare can be a marketplace when every one of us who's sitting here knows that when we're sick, we're not a savvy consumer of healthcare. We have no idea what we're buying. We have no idea what the cost is going to be. We have no control over those costs. And the only thing we know is we're scared and we want to get better.
GAYLE KING: And you open your book that way actually, Steven. Because here you are in the middle of open heart surgery while you're
BRILL: Just as I was finishing the report.
KING: While you’re working on this book. So you really have a very unique perspective because here your bill came to close to $200,000 after eight days. Talk about the perspective of what you learned being on the other side and then trying to get great health care.
BRILL: Well, what I learned was that I didn't care about the cost at the moment I was lying on the gurney and nobody would. You'll beg, borrow and steal, whatever you have to to get the money to get yourself healthy or to get your loved one healthy. What I also learned was that the insurance companies have very little leverage. My insurance company got all of the 12% discount off of the so-called the chargemaster prices for my $190,000. What I also learned was it didn't matter that much to me because I have the means to satisfy the deductible that I have to pay and after that, you know, the whole thing was free.
KING: But you have a great moment in the book where you actually go to the head of the hospital with your bill to explain it and even he couldn’t explain it to you.
BRILL: Well, this is emblematic of just how screwed up the system is. Here is, you know, the largest sector of our economy. We’re supposed to have a smart free market economy. I got an explanation of benefits. Everybody watching gets an explanation of benefits from the insurance company and I happened to be interviewing the CEO of United Healthcare and I asked him to explain this explanation of benefits to me because it had said that the amount billed was zero but that I owed $154. He looked at it and he looked at it and he said I could sit here all day and I couldn’t explain that to you. I don’t know why they sent that to you. And I said well, aren't you they?
O’DONNELL; I think everybody at home wants to know because everyone I think battles with their insurance company, battles with the hospital and is frustrated by the system. You know, how can it get better?
BRILL: It has to get better -- it can only get better when people decide that as healthcare consumers and as taxpayers they're not going to let the lobbyists in Washington for the hospital industry, for the drug industry, for the medical device industry have their way and that's a difficult thing. This book is really about how this country doesn't work and it uses the largest and most screwed up industry in the country to illustrate that we can't do the nation's business in Washington.
O’DONNELL: The health care issue which is 1/6 of our economy?
BRILL: 1/6 of our economy. It is the size of the economy of France and it doesn’t work and it's going to continue not to work until, you know, we really rise up and do something about it.
KING: And you snow when people speak up, stuff happens.
BRILL: Sometimes yeah. Yeah. Exactly.
O’DONNELL: Steven Brill, thank you so much.
BRILL: Thanks for having me.
O’DONNELL: And we’ll learn more about his findings this Sunday on 60 Minutes. Leslie Stall gives us an inside look at how the healthcare industry lobbyists helped shape the Affordable Care Act. That’s on 60 Minutes Sunday right here on CBS.