You've probably heard it said by critics that health reform will cost taxpayers at least a trillion dollars. This sounds scary, which is the intent of the critics, but it turns out not to be true!
The quoted figure is not a trillion dollars a year, but rather a trillion dollars over 10 years. On a yearly basis, the cost equals approximately $140 billion dollars. To put this in perspective, the Part D Medicare Drug plan passed during the Bush presidency is about 600 billion dollars for drugs alone.
$140 billion dollars a year still overstates the cost, however. That is because other parts of the reform plan result in savings for Medicare, such as the reduction of subsidies to private insurers, reform of payment rates for doctors and a decrease in payments to hospitals for providing "free care" to the uninsured. When all of this is taken into account, the net increase in government spending for health care will likely be about $100 billion a year, which is a one-time increase equal to less than 1 percent of US national income, which has historically grown at an average annual rate of 2.5 percent every year.
While criticizing, right wing critics have stood against ideas to improve care and lower costs. For example, a plan to fund research which gives doctors, patients and health plans better information on what works and what doesn't, Republican critics have claimed a sinister plot to have the government decide what treatments you will get. Using this kind of perverted logic, a proposal that Medicare pay for counseling on end-of-life care is transformed into a secret plan for mass euthanasia of the elderly. There are many other examples.
Please, don't take hysterical criticism at face value. The truth is more complicated, but also reassuring.