December 16, 2010
Are We Feeling Better Yet?By Deane Waldman
The president's reform of the U.S. health care system is in full swing. The doctor asked, Are we feeling better yet?
You should feel better since, the age limit for Medicaid has been increased to 26 years. Now your 25-year-old can be covered. This is helpful since he cannot get a job. No one is hiring additional workers due to the financial penalties (one mustn't call them taxes) imposed by HR 3590 (ObamaCare).
You must at least be relieved about the elimination of the "preexisting condition" exclusion on health insurance policies. Of course, you may well lose your job (and with it your health insurance) because of ObamaCare. Didn't think of that?
U.S. companies did their due diligence, which Congress did not. Corporations such as Medtronic, AT&T, and Deere calculated how much ObamaCare would add to their bottom lines, with no offsetting revenue. They then reported their findings publicly, which produced great Democrat ire.
Anyone who has ever balanced a checkbook -- which people in the Beltway obviously have not -- knows that if costs go up in one area (like insurance you are required to purchase by law -- see HR 3590) and you cannot make more money, then you have to cut costs somewhere else.
So U.S. companies are cutting back on their workforces. The politically correct acronym is RIF -- reduction in force. That is what you and I call being laid off, losing our job.
Does ObamaCare make you feel better now that you do not have to get up in the morning to go to work? The good news is that with no job and no income, you can join your son on the rolls of Medicaid.
No doubt your chest swells with pride that ObamaCare avoided injecting those nasty capitalist market forces into health care. Profit motive has no place in the business of health care, right? Though real-world people wanted a clause to allow insurance companies to compete across state lines, that was not included in the bill. So what if your health insurance premiums are going up? At least you can say you stayed with the liberal agenda.
But one thing certainly must make you feel tingly all over: no Americans will lack health insurance. Well...maybe not. There are two smallish problems, and also a giant one.
Small problem (#1) is that no one knows how or if ObamaCare will actually get the uninsured to become insured. According to the GAO, at least 24% of uninsured Americans are uninsured by choice. They do not want to sign up.
Not-so-small problem (#2) relates to illegal residents. Are they covered under ObamaCare or not? They do get care now and will continue to receive care. The unanswered question is whether hospitals and doctors will get paid. Sidestepping on this question by the Democrats was worthy of first prize on "Star Search." Not feeling so good? Sorry, but we also have to consider the big problem.
The big problem is simple. Health insurance does not equal health care. ObamaCare is driving nurses and doctors right out of medicine. So even if you have insurance, who will care for you? Can you see Nancy Pelosi using a stethoscope, Harry Reid wielding a scalpel? I bet that is giving you chest pains.
I hate to rain on your parade, especially when you're not feeling well. But there is finally the cost of ObamaCare. Over $2 trillion (with a "t," not even a "b") will be expended, mostly on a massive increase in the federal bureaucracy. HR 3590 creates 68 new grant programs, 47 bureaucratic entities, 29 demonstration projects, six whole new regulatory agencies, six compliance standards, two new entitlements, and a large expansion of the IRS.
These are dollars we do not have. Therefore, these are dollars the government will have to print ("create money"), adding to our already bloated deficit. So the queasy feeling you now have will extend to your children and grandchildren because they will have to pay for all this spending.
Feeling sick? Nauseous? Trouble breathing? Unfortunately, there are no doctors or nurses. You have no job, no insurance, and a deficit you did not want and cannot possibly afford. Nonetheless, what you think you are feeling must be incorrect. After all, President Obama said he would fix everything. Since you know he means well, he must be doing right. Right? Right?! Oh, sorry -- I forgot you also have trouble with hearing and eyesight.
Deane Waldman M.D., MBA is a practicing physician, a systems thinker, the author of Uproot U.S. Healthcare, and an Adjunct Scholar for the Rio Grande Foundation in New Mexico.