Affordable?

Or: The Affordable Care Act, and other Fairytales

I just completed yearly Health Insurance enrollment through my employer. Last year we had three options: HMO, PPO and a High-Deductible Healthcare Plan (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account (HSA). At the time, I went with PPO. This year, they dropped the first two options and left us with the third. They say that this was due to overall cost increases of the other two plans, and had nothing to do with Obamacare. I find this hard to believe, mostly because none of us saw this coming.

  2012 2013
Premium (PPO vs HDHP)  $        4,130  $        2,694
FSA vs HAS  $        2,500  $        6,000
Total  $        6,630  $        8,694

So assuming that next year will be the same as this, healthcare will cost me about 31% more. Gee, thanks Mister President.

This leads to my principal objections to this piece of legislation – the fact that it makes nothing affordable. I am far from alone in this. Everyone I have spoken to, without exception, will be paying significantly more in 2014 than they did in 2013. I have yet to meet anyone who is better off under the ACA.

This is hardly surprising: After all, the ACA mandates that Insurance companies provide more services than they did before. Many of these “features” are hard to dislike, such as:

  • Making it impossible for an insurer to deny/terminate coverage due to”pre-existing conditions”
  • Removing yearly/lifetime insurance caps
  • Free* Birth Control

There are other “improvements”, such as Free* Abortifactants (“morning after” pills) – that are contentious issues (no Dorothy, recreational sex without the fear of pregnancy is *not* a basic human right, however strongly you may “feel” about it). But whatever way you slice it, the cumulative effect of all of these changes will be to raise the overall cost of healthcare, which begs the question “How is this affordable?

“But Wait, There’s more!” Says ObamaCare. “You will have more choices!” And there are savings, to be had! Not so fast… since I have a good job, I get *nothing* from the government; No help, no discount, nothing. And the options available on the exchanges are very expensive ($680/month and up).

It’s beginning to look a lot like “You on you own, foo!”

But the ACA story does not end there. The worst part is the arrogance and hubris of assuming that the free market can be bound by legislation like this without any adverse consequences. They seem to have forgotten some basic principles:

  • Adding more bureaucracy to any process makes it less efficient and more expensive.
  • You cannot force private business to operate at a loss.
  • You cannot force Doctors to do business with you on *your* terms.
  • You cannot force young, healthy people to buy health insurance that they don’t need.
  • You cannot force employers to pay more than they are willing for employee health insurance.

Most of us know people who have had their working hours cut to the point where their employers no longer have to offer Health Insurance. Some have lost their jobs entirely. Before blaming the “Eeeevil capitalistic employers”, ask yourself why they are doing this. To put it bluntly, this legislation made Health Insurance too expensive for them — and unlike the Federal Government, they can’t just print money and spend their way out of trouble.

Just as The Internet and Osama Bin Laden are President Clinton’s legacies, and the War On Terror is George Bush’s, ObamaCare will be the enduring legacy of this president. His fortunes, and that of the Democrats who rammed it through over the repeated objections of the Republicans, will be indelibly tied to this initiative. If it works, it will be their greatest shining moment since the New Deal. If it fails, it sill be a millstone around their collective necks for years to come – if not decades.

I believe it will fail. Here’s why: Healthcare is not a human right, and it is not a Governmental duty (one possible exception: chronic disease and serious disability). I know whereof I speak – I know *exactly*what Socialized Healthcare looks like; Britain’s National Health Service is inefficient, top-heavy, strained to breaking point, dangerously incompetent, and expensive enough to bankrupt the national economy of a first-world nation.

The only reason that it works at all is that the Government trains and employs the doctors – and we are trying to do it with doctors who trained themselves at their own considerable investment in time and money. It takes fifteen years and about a million dollars to train a doc. Force them to do business at a loss and they will walk – and then we will complain that there is a “Doctor shortage” and try to fix it by passing new laws.

Good luck with that.

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