“Did you know that health care reform does NOT mean free health insurance for all -- or that you could be fined if you don’t have health insurance?” A mass-mailed postcard from CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield recently posed this question to residents of metropolitan Washington, D.C.
Almost four years after enactment of the most far-reaching federal law in a generation, Americans are still trying to find out what’s in it.
[sharequote align="center"]Obamacare means someone else is always in charge of your health care.[/sharequote]
Granted, the ugly truth of the insurance company’s postcard would not have sold the law to an unsuspecting public as effectively as other slogans:
-- “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it. Period.”
-- “If you like your health care, the only thing reform will mean is your health care will cost less.”
The reality is not so attractive. Citing the disgust and difficulty Americans experienced with this health care system, Democrats (and only Democrats) rammed through the 2,700 page law in 2010 which took more power away from Americans to make their own health care decisions and put the federal government firmly in charge.
Photo Credit: AP
Instead of allowing Americans broad latitude to customize their health care choices, the new law made value judgments about which insurance plans were worth keeping, and mandated we buy coverage for procedures we neither want nor can use.
Worse, the new law requires many of us to buy coverage for products that violate our first amendment rights to free exercise of religion.
Two things propelled Obamacare forward. One, the understandable frustration we had with lack of choice in insurance products, doctors, and historically rising premium payments. Two, the knowledge that many Americans go uninsured and some require taxpayer assistance to pay their debts or some people who do not receive the care they need.
We worried about our health care choices and results (charity begins at home), and being a generous and kind nation, we worried about our neighbors’ health care choices and results, especially for the least fortunate among us.
We did not want to make our situations worse while simultaneously harming those neighbors.
Most people believed President Obama’s promises about his signature law and voted to reelect him, one year before the roll-out of the law would occur. Now that the bad effects of the law are clear to those receiving policy cancellation notices, the most recent Gallup poll data shows Obama’s approval rating at an almost all time low of 39 percent.
Instead of a tailored approach to fix the problems by giving consumers more choice and allowing us to buy policies across state lines, Obamacare grabbed control of the health care marketplace.
Even at the state level, Obamacare has failed. Oregon spent over $300 million to set up its state exchange but not a single person enrolled for the offered coverage.
This June 19, 2013 photo shows the Brattleboro Retreat in Brattleboro, Vt. Brattleboro Retreat has provided the largest share of acute psychiatric care capacity to fill the gap created by the forced closure of the 54-bed Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury. Photo Credit: Toby Talbot/AP
In many markets, the Obamacare exchange only has two companies offering policies. Lack of competition drives up costs for residents of those markets. Worse still, in New Hampshire only one insurer participates in the state-federal shared exchange and coverage excludes 10 of the state’s 26 acute-care hospitals.
A commonsense approach would decouple our health insurance from our workplace. Obamacare reduces employees’ job mobility now that employers can hang on to employees longer because of employees’ fears about loss of health insurance coverage.
Not everyone who is sick can stay employed, and not every company stays in business. Also, tying health insurance to employment causes people initially to accept jobs they do not want, to stay at dis-satisfactory jobs longer than they desire, and to avoid pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities.
Obamacare devastates the individual health insurance policy market. Beyond the obvious catastrophic failure of the healthcare.gov website, Obamacare resulted in millions of individual policies cancellations, plans that Americans wanted to keep.
In the Obama economy, people cannot find jobs or their hours are being cut. Young people cannot find entry level jobs to teach them the skills to start off their careers. Over 47 million Americans are on food stamps, almost 15 million more than when Obama took office. The ripple effects of Obamacare worsen these problems.
It’s nigh impossible to fit onto a postcard the upshot of 2,700 pages of statutory text and its 20,000 of ever-expanding regulations. Perhaps it’s this: Obamacare means someone else is always in charge of your health care.
Obama promised us that if we liked our health care, his signature health plan would only lower the cost. Now we can see that the only thing reform means is that what was bad was made worse and what was good is no longer available. Unfortunately, no postcard can fix that.
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