Horoscopes
Columnists
Like Us On Facebook

OP/ED: Bummercare BY JEFFREY OPPENHEIM, M.D.

A look at how Obamacare has failed healthcare already

ibamacar

 

 

 

 

 

 

BY JEFFREY OPPENHEIM, M.D.

Anyone who believed the cavalcade of audacious promises made by President Obama in an effort to sell Obamacare to the American public should have long since recognized that they were swindled. “You can keep your doctor”, lower premiums, great coverage, and better care, were just a few of these lies. A skeptic might say, “I told you so”, but a true cynic might see something even worse: a master plan unfolding; a plan whose real goal is single payer government health insurance.

The latest news from Aetna demonstrates that the architecture of Obamacare was intentionally designed to fail. Aetna reported massive losses on their Obamacare plans, which they blamed on the disproportionately ill cohort of patients they were mandated to enroll. Additionally, because Obamacare prohibits denial of preexisting conditions, Aetna claims that many patients simply waited until they got sick before enrolling and then dropped out when they were well. As a consequence, Aetna is dropping coverage from most states, leaving many people with few insurance options.

bummercare

Not surprisingly, the Obama administration chose to blame Aetna for making a cold business decision rather than recognizing that losing money is not the goal of capitalism. Similarly, when United Healthcare withdrew from Obamacare markets, they were vilified by the administration. The left wing remedy for the failed economics of Obamacare, espoused most vocally by Bernie Sanders, is a call for the extirpation of all for-profit insurance companies in favor of a single government insurer, such as Medicare.

Adding fuel to this fire are the massive increases in premiums requested by the insurers, all of whom are facing ledger problems. This sticker shock comes in spite of heavy government subsidies. Because the government retains price control of Obamacare plans it is easy for them to stoke public contempt: deny price increases and force the insurers to withdraw coverage options, or allow price increases and infuriate the consumers. Either way the public will be encouraged to blame the private sector and then clamor for socialized medicine.

dm

Socialized medicine is, and always has been, the real goal of the liberal American health reform movement. However, moving directly to a single payer system has been impossible for 3 reasons. First, the majority of Americans don’t like socialism, when it is labeled as such. We are a free-enterprise country where government control is viewed with suspicion. Second, there is enormous equity in the private health insurance business. The stockholders’ ownership could not just be expropriated. Lastly, the medical community, including health care practitioners and hospitals, have long feared and fought financial control by the government. Shifting to a socialist system without the support of organized health care would have been impossible. Obamacare, in ways both foul and fair, is designed to nullify each of these problems.

A poll conducted by the AP earlier this year found that a majority of Americans harbor negative feelings towards socialized medicine. Yet, by demonizing the private insurance companies that overcharge for coverage, underpay for benefits, or withdraw coverage altogether, liberals hope that the government “option” begins to sound better to Americans. In other words, if “Obamacare” is a great government plan that was being poorly administered by private insurance companies, then why not just cut out the middle-man? The public has already been conditioned to accept government health care for the elderly (Medicare) and poor (Medicaid) communities. So, if Obamacare isn’t working, according the the narrative of left, then it is the fault of free enterprise and not the government. The same AP poll found that in spite of the negative feelings about socialized medicine and Obamacare, a majority of Americans have a positive reaction to the idea of Medicare-for-all.

bushcares

It seems ironic that an inefficient, poorly executed, over-priced, un-popular government program would lead people to clamor for more government control. But by turning the narrative to issues of trust, Obamacare wants people to ask “Who do you fear more: big government or big corporations?” Thus, the solution to a bad government program is even more government. Move over, Rube Goldberg!

Like it or not, Obamacare’s problems serve the interests of those seeking to expand the size and scope of the government. Even today, Hillary Clinton has called for building upon Obamacare, including extending an option for people in their 50’s to join Medicare. If this were to happen, pressure would quickly build to extend that option to everyone, crushing the free market.

It could certainly be argued that Medicare seems like a better option for some than private insurance. Medicare may also be more cost effective and easier to understand for many. But, consider an analogy. Some countries have a single airline serving their citizens. The flight schedules, prices, and routes of a single carrier are easier to follow. Perhaps the service of many of these airlines is better than American carriers provide. But, should we support a government take over of the airlines, too? And, if that is a good idea, why not a government takeover of manufacturing companies and farms?

The Bolshevik and Cuban Revolutions overthrew capitalism by seizing private property. In the United States, no such paroxysm would be tolerated. The cumulative equity of the various health insurance companies totals many billions of dollars, and the stocks of these companies are held by American families and pension plans. While the left wing might not care about these companies, they could not suddenly wipe out the worth held by the public. Instead the industry will be forced out of business by conglomeration or redirection. The genius of Obamacare is that by forcing insurance companies to take responsibility for a failing program the government has effectively sold them the rope by which they will be hung. For example, last year Assurant Health announced an exit from the health insurance marketplace to focus on housing and lifestyle products. 2 months ago, CHI announced that it was leaving the health insurance business when its subsidiary, QualChoice Health, racked up mounting losses. The remaining insurance companies are trying to merge in order to remain profitable (e.g. Anthem with Cigna, Aetna with Humana), but the writing is on the wall.

obama1

Obamacare’s third deceitful maneuver has been to corral the American medical community. Hospitals and health care providers have been so tortured by the bureaucracy created by the insurance industry that the mismanagement of the Federal Government seems to many like a lesser evil. Doctors had already been betrayed by the AMA when it endorsed Obamacare under a threat to cut off their principal source of revenue: licensing fees from the Federal Government’s use of the CPT Coding system. With the AMA on board, physicians were left alone to face the tsunami of rules and restrictions that have promulgated under Obamacare. The onerous burden of this bureaucracy has made it virtually impossible for most doctors to own their own practice. The result has been the rapid corporatization of most practices in America. Fewer than half of the physicians in the United States now work in traditional private practices. Most new physicians become employees of hospitals or large companies that resemble big box stores. As a result, doctors are no longer able to effectively fight the gravitational force pulling us into the black hole of socialized medicine. Marcus Welby is dead.

To Obamacare advocates, the American health care system has been a jungle in which only the fittest survive and from which only the government could provide protection. In reality, Obamacare, with all its mendacious promises, is a camouflaged transport enroute to the zoo.

goldenscrew

Comments