Don’t Forget About ObamaCareEconomicsPolicy

Speaker of the House John Boehner may have raised some eyebrows when he appeared to concede that “Obamacare is the law of the land,” virtually admitting that he would make no special effort to repeal in toto the Affordable Care Act. He may have seen it as a losing issue after President Obama and Democratic senators’ victories on November 6th.

He may be right — insofar as introducing legislation in the House to repeal it is a waste of time. Republican Representatives can pass a repeal bill every day of the week, but there is absolutely no way it would make it past the senate; and even if, by some miracle, it did, there is no way President Obama would allow his signature achievement to be killed by a simple majority.

Boehner emphasized that “full repeal” remains the goal of Republicans, and that they would try to repeal increments of the Act in coming sessions — but it would be fruitless, not to mention a political debit, to theatrize their majority by continuing to make full repeal a central and perpetual issue.

However, that is no reason to forget about Obamacare.

Anatomy Lesson of Dr Obama — with apologies to Rembrandt van Rijn

As more and more of the law is implemented, more and more businesses are going to stand still or retract. Employers are dropping employees and cutting employee hours to avoid federal thresholds and to keep costs and overhead down. Health care costs are still rising; and as more and more people are covered for pre-existing conditions, that cost will continue to rise. Even when everyone has insurance, the cost will not be defrayed because more and more people will want to get “their money’s worth” out of their policy.

The full implementation of the Affordable Care Act needs to be a major discussion in the coming months and years, especially in 2014 when every Democratic senator elected in 2008 on the coat-tails of Barack Obama may be branded as the deciding vote to corporatize — with government sanction and  force — the mandatory use of seventeen hundredths of private property. Here’s a sample of what we have to look forward to:

2013

  • Contributions over $2,500 per year to a health Flexible Spending Account will now be taxed.
  • Medical equipment — including defibrillators — will have an excise tax of 2.3% added on to it, the cost of which will simply be passed on to the ultimate consumer (the patient).
  • Health care cost must surpass 10% of the gross adjusted income in order to claim an itemized deduction (this actually shouldn’t be a problem since health care costs per person continue to rise much faster than the rise in income per person…).

2014

  • Insurance companies will be prohibited from imposing limits on annual coverage. Patients will no longer consider it prudent to use their policies discerningly, since their coverage is now virtually unlimited.
  • Businesses — if they exceed 50 full-time employees — will be required to provide “an acceptable level” of health insurance coverage, else pay a penalty. Expect layoffs, more employees’ hours to be reduced below 30 hours per week, and salaries to drop to compensate for the increase in benefit cost.
  • Finally, 310 Million individuals — simply by virtue of their existence — will be required to engage in commerce with, and to dispense their own property to, private corporations, in order to obtain a service that 279 lawmakers and 1 executive have determined to be so important that these 310 Million individuals may not exercise their liberty or personal choice to keep their property, or employ it elsewhere, without a federal penalty to be paid at the muzzle of a gun.

One thing we can’t forget about ObamaCare, is that it claimed to do everything it could to address the rising cost of insurance. But it did virtually NOTHING to address the rising cost of health care.

The price of insurance is absolutely correlative to the price of health care, and if you want insurance to be affordable, worry about the cost of health care. With the ever-present specter of malpractice, along with insurance policies being required to cover unlimited routine visits, certain complex procedures, and pre-existing conditions, doctors will only increase their services, driving up the sum-total on health bills, increasing the wait-time for those services, driving up the demand for doctors, ergo driving up the inherent cost in health care service and the cost of insurance. It is a vicious cycle that does more to damage the quality and efficiency of care we have become used to in the United States.

The Democrats’ attitude toward health-care seems to be: we don’t care how awful the service is, so long as everyone may access it.

Liberals would mandate that every driver be covered for oil-changes, brake-jobs, pre-existing body rust, and <ahem> headlight lifts;

They would do nothing to lower the cost of auto parts and mechanic-labor, and then vilify GEICO for cars breaking down on the side of the road;

They would require every mechanic to have received a college degree and be certified by the state and federal government in order to work on cars;

They would require all repair shops to follow volumes of regulations to ensure safety and cleanliness;

They would encourage mechanics to change the oil, recharge the battery, run a computer diagnostic, and check the brakes — JUST IN CASE — every time someone came in because their engine was making “a funny sound;”

They would create an industry out of lawyers filing suit against mechanics and parts makers because they didn’t do everything they could to ensure the plaintiff’s car was returned to “like-new” condition;

They would rather create the impression that a car can last forever at another’s expense, than encourage drivers wisely to maintain their property with their own property, and then, simply, to enjoy the ride while it lasts;

They would require Rolls Royce to sell their product at the value of a Gremlin, which would eventually require individuals to purchase a Gremlin at the price of a Rolls Royce.

In short, they would do everything they can to drive up demand, and then attack the suppliers for the rise in value.

No, we cannot forget about Obamacare. When our expectation is to have the finest product available, at the expense of another person’s property; and when life is that product, it is impossible — by the laws of economics and the laws of logic — for our nation ever to maintain its prosperity. We will create a stagnant mediocrity, grant to a faceless human authority the power to determine how much life and quality of life is “acceptable,” and elevate our dependence on that authority until property is void, liberty is nostalgia, and self-propriety — i.e., life — is nothing more than a pluralistic determination of worth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1427002848 James Cohen

    Well written article Andrew. This belongs on the front page of the Washington Times.

  • Pat

    But the fallacy here is that there are many people who assume the risk of not having health insurance because – if they show up in an emergency room, the provider will fix them up without verifying that they can pay. Is this the Conservative way – ordering private entities to give away services for free? What is the cost to the system of having someone come in with stage 4 colon cancer vs the cost of a preventive colonoscopy?

    • MD Russ

      Pat,

      Not true. Stop by your local district court one day when they are calling new cases. The vast majority of the cases are hospitals suing ER patients who showed up with no insurance. And they are not just suing for the insurance-negotiated rates or the Medicaid reimbursement rates. They are suing for the full unconstrained rates for their treatment procedures, often totaling tens of thousands of dollars. No one is giving away services for free.

      Read some of the literature on the subject of Medicaid/Medicare and health costs. Most economists trace the beginning of skyrocketing health care costs to 1965 when M/M was passed. Instead of people only seeking necessary treatment, when it became free they began to demand more and more medical services, treatments, and tests. That exponentially increased the cost of health care per person, forcing private insurers to increase premiums and co-pays. That, in turn, pushed more and more people onto M/M. ObamaCare is going to accelerate that trend, not reduce costs. It is a death spiral for affordable health care. Military retirees, including combat-wounded medical retirees, are seeing this effect already. It took special language in the Defense Authorization Act of 2013 to stop the Pentagon from increasing premiums, co-pays, and deductibles on retirees ten-fold between 2013 and 2017. If the Pentagon can do that to our combat veterans, then the Federal government will do it to everyone. Wait and see.

      • Pat

        Yes, Russ – every day there are people who have judgements placed against them – and every day there are people that declare bankruptcy because of it. There are also people that just skip out on the bill – false or no ID, fake names, etc. They also use the most expensive resource (ID, Trauma center) for their care, when it is not necessary.

        Who said the healthcare was free – people will still need to pay premiums and co-pays. The HCR does limit the amount of profit that an insurance company can make – so that WILL lead to lower premiums – many people saw that this year alone.

        Is it the Conservative way to force a vendor to give away services for free? That is what we have in the Good Ole USA right now.

        • MD Russ

          Pat,

          No, the Conservative way is for people to take responsibility for themselves instead of getting a government hand-out. No matter how you spin it, M/M is a government hand-out and ObamaCare is going to accelerate the problems it has caused with health care costs.

          The problem is not that the government is subsidizing care for those who cannot afford it–the problem is that government-paid health care encourages waste and fraud. Fraud in Medicare alone is estimated at $24B per year and that figure does not include wasteful, unnecessary health care. That is why the Ryan Plan to reform entitlements spending would convert M/M from direct payments to health care providers with minimum oversight to a program of private health insurance premium support payments made to the insured, the so-called “voucher” program that Liberals hate because it make citizens responsible for themselves instead of being dependent on the government. And that is the Conservative way.

  • Loudoun GOPer

    Good points. That is why this election was so important. Even with a Republican President, Republican House, and Republican Senate, it would have required adjusting the filibuster rules to repeal Obamacare. Now it will never happen.
    The Democrats will block any attempt to repeal any of it, and once it is fully implemented you will never be able to rip all of the tendrils out.
    What we need to do is keep reminding people why their health care choices and health insurance are getting worse and more expensive. My employer recently informed us that my current health insurance plan is being discontinued, and the only two choices that I am being given include higher deductibles, higher annual out-of-pocket costs and, of course, higher premiums. I thought if I liked my plan I would get to keep it???
    People don’t seem to understand that the law only requires that you HAVE health insurance. It doesn’t require that your insurance plan be any good. This is the best of both worlds for the insurance companies. Everyone in American is required by law to buy their products, and they get to pass on more and more of the costs of health care onto their customers, all the while charging more and more money in premiums.
    Our job is to remind people why this is happening. Every time someone loses their preferred heatlh insurance plan: it’s because of Obamacare; every time someone loses their job because their company is cutting staff to save money on health insurance costs: Obamacare; every time someone’s premiums and costs go up: Obamacare

    • Pat

      There is just so much misinformation here. Are you going to blame world hunger on Obamacare also? Yes, the plan requires you to have health insurance, and YES, it also requires the plan to be good (why are there complaints about the McD plan and others). The plans must cover preventive medicine and preventive visits. Research it a bit more.

      • Loudoun GOPer

        There is nothing that requires an insurance plan to be “good.” There are requirements for what types of services must be covered, but not at what level. My old plan covered doctor vists with a $20 copay. The new plan has a $50 copay for office visits, AND my premiums go up. An even better example is the maximum annual out-of-pocket costs. Under my old plan, the annual maximum was $2,500. Under the new plan it is $9,000, AND my premiums go up. Are you starting to see the problem?
        Do you actually believe what you are saying? Do you actually believe that health care costs are going to go down?? If so, you are going to be in for a rude awakening when reality ends up hitting you between the eyes. Of course, when costs skyrocket and people lose their jobs, you probably will blame it all on Bush.

        • Pat

          GOPer – you really need to go to your HR department and find out why the company decided to offer you such a plan – because, HCR does not dictate the plan being offered. Do not blame it on HCR, find out the real reason. Many companies will be disguising changes as HCR.

          • Loudoun GOPer

            Pat – Have you not been paying attention? Do you thnk that my company, which is not a small company, would just decide to radically restructure their entire health care benefits program because they felt like it? They are changing because they have to because ObamaCare is coming on line.
            So far every promise Obama made on health care reform has been a lie. I was told costs would go down, but costs are still going up, and faster than they were before. I was told I could keep my health insurance plan, but I can’t. I was told that everyone would be covered, but that just means that people who don’t want health insurance are forced to buy it, and people who are too poor to buy health care are now being subsidized by me.
            Here’s the big kicker. The poor people who can’t afford health insurance ares supposed to be covered by a massive expansion of medicaid which the Feds wanted to push onto the states, but the Supreme Court ruled that you can’t force the states to take on that kind of burden by threatening to withhold their existing medicaid funding support. So most states either won’t or can’t expand their medicaid programs to cover these new people. Bottom line: my health care plan gets worse and more expensive, and the people who couldn’t afford to buy health insurance in the first place STILL won’t be covered.

  • http://www.facebook.com/zeiglerg Gerald Zeigler

    @6e0bcaab00add325ef2c10017805659f:disqus, Actually the traditional way of medicine, back when doctors visited homes, was simply take what those of lower incomes could pay. Often they would be billed, but not aggressively pursued. Often, doctors simply didn’t charge those who couldn’t afford anything. I would call that the conservative way, but maybe I was born a few hundred years late.

    • http://www.facebook.com/david.eggleston.963 David Eggleston

      Exactly. Healthcare reform should focus on the way insurance companies and M&M manipulate prices, not on mandating that everyone buy a policy, except for the poor who cannot afford, who were the purported reason for the reform in the first place. Classic bait and switch to foist an NHS on the U.S.

  • Pop

    Excellent article, Andrew, especially the concluding paragraph.