Monday

October 23rd, 2017

Insight

Obamacare --- You Would Think It is Working Boffo

Bruce Bialosky

By Bruce Bialosky

Published May 22, 2017

Now that House Republicans have passed a revision/repeal of Obamacare, the Left has turned convulsive.  Predictions of bodies strewn on the streets and picked up on oxen-driven carts have been offered by elected officials who want us to take them seriously.  Let us review the current state of health insurance in America.

What Obamacare did was six basic things:

  • 1.     Provide that your child can be on your health insurance until the age of 26.  I am not sure why this is so wildly popular, if it truly is.  This is not Italy where young men live at home until they marry and get another woman to tend to their needs.  We get our kids out and tell them to get a job.
  • 2.     Elimination of pre-existing conditions.  This is extremely popular and has whipped Americans into a frenzy being concerned that they will not be able to obtain insurance.
  • 3.     Greatly expanded Medicaid.  As we have discussed before, people being covered by Medicaid does not mean that have any greater access to medical care.  It also created an open-ended entitlement that would eventually crush many state budgets.
  • 4.     Screwed up the rest of Americans' health care coverage, throwing people off their existing plans, greatly raising premiums and deductibles.
  • 5.     Took lifetime caps off the outlays insurance companies could have for a member's health care needs.
  • 6.     Significantly raised taxes for everyone to pay for their plan and created rules for small businesses that seriously impaired growth and thus new jobs for Americans.

The big issue that Democrats are scaring people about are pre-existing conditions.  The facts are that only 10% of Americans (about 18 million insured) could possibly have a concern about pre-existing conditions.  Everyone else had no concern because that was not an issue for people who had insurance through their employer, Medicare, Medicaid or the VA. 

When Jimmy Kimmel went through his heart-wrenching rant about his newborn's heart condition, he made multiple misstatements of fact.  He stated his one-day old child would have a pre-existing condition which would disqualify him from insurance coverage.  That child was covered by Kimmel's health insurance which was provided by Disney -- with about 170,000 employees.  If Kimmel remained there, the child would be covered until he was 26 years old or maybe he would get a job at Disney and never have to worry about his pre-existing condition.

Obamacare set up a special program to cover people denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions.  That program covered a little short of 115,000 people in 2013 which was its peak.  It was predicted back in 2011 that up to 129 million people were exposed for having problems with health insurance because of pre-existing conditions.  The statement then and the fear tactics now are just lies to make people scared of the Republican proposal. 

If you were one of the few people who will be able to get to the point that you are rejected by an insurance company for pre-existing health conditions, then the new plan passed by the House provides a $130 billion high-risk pool to help cover these people.  Remember possibly just 10% of Americans would ever start to be exposed to needing the high risk pool, and few will ever get to the point of having to use this final protective step.

The high-risk pool is designed specifically to segregate individuals with significantly high risk medical conditions.  That is because having these people as members of the general insurance population is gravely distorting the cost of insurance for everyone else.  The proposal, which is not a new idea, allows the vast majority of Americans to lessen their insurance costs and the co-pays.   The idea is to mitigate these extreme increases in insurance costs that occurred in 2017 and are expected for 2018.  It will also bring more companies back into markets (more competition) because they will be better able to project their outlays and control their losses. 

Instead of creating a better marketplace Obamacare destroyed the marketplace for health care by making it impossible for insurers to predict costs.  Without that they cannot properly price their product.  Thus, Obamacare provided Americans little or no competition for their insurance dollars and created soaring costs.  In addition, the individual mandate that was supposedly forcing everyone to buy insurance was a near complete failure. 

Why are Democrats crowing about the supposed faults of the Republican plan (AHCA)?  What had been foisted upon Americans was either failing or already failed.  Except for adding millions of people to a questionable Medicaid system, nothing positive was done.  If the program was working so well, why did the death rate increase in 2015?  Obamacare should have decreased death rates with more people provided health insurance and thus health care, but that did not happen.  Death rates are just one indicator of its success, but an important indicator.

On May 5th, the devilish duo behind Obamacare - Jonathan Gruber and Ezekiel Emanuel ran dueling dissertations in the Washington Post on how the Republicans are at fault for the problems with their dismal plan.  If the Republicans only forced people to buy the health insurance they don't want on the exchanges, the plan would be saved.  If Republicans only gave the plan more time -the 2017 massive premium increases were a one-time adjustment of costs.  If they only threw more money at insurance companies to underwrite their losses. Aetna has pulled out of the Exchanges.   Blue Cross in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. has already requested a 52%, 35% and 29% increase for 2018 respectively.  Maybe, Gruber and Emanuel should read the newspapers and get closer to reality.  Aetna has already lost $500 million since 2014 on their failed plan.

The Democrats are crowing about a plan (Obamacare) where they lied to Americans about the basics of their healthcare (you can keep your plan and your doctor), which has crushed the competitive marketplace for insurance and driven up its costs and out-of-pocket expenses.

The plan desperately needed an overhaul, yet, they voted unanimously in the House to keep this damaged plan that was spiraling down and potentially out of control. 

Instead of attacking Republicans with lies and innuendos, they should be trying to help.  It appears they would rather expose all Americans to a collapsing medical insurance creation of their own doing for their own perverse political purposes.  Americans will figure that out and make them pay.  

Bruce Bialosky is the founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition of California and a former Presidential appointee.

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