Obamacare: Disentangling the Private from the Public
By enacting ObamaCare, Democrats changed America’s entire healthcare system. With their brazen hubris on full display, the Dems took what had been working well for decades and interwove it with what had never existed. That is, they took private health insurance freely purchased by individuals and employers, and recklessly entangled it with government subsidies to purchase that insurance. It was like putting cosmetic surgery patients in the hospital wing with the Ebola patients. And it was a deliberate effort to create a system that could never be repealed. Indeed, former Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius described the structure of the new system as so “intimately entwined” that it could never be dismantled, “because frankly there isn’t anything to go back to.” She was unwittingly admitting that the government had destroyed the old system, which, incidentally, had a functioning market.
When the Democrats were selling ObamaCare to the American people, they mainly addressed those who already had health insurance. They assured us that we could keep our plans, and keep our doctors, and that our premiums we would go down by $2,500. It was all lies. For the folks who had already accepted their “individual responsibility,” ObamaCare screwed up their health insurance. So the first objective of repeal should be to undo all the harm that ObamaCare has visited on the private health insurance market and its customers.
One of the reasons for enacting ObamaCare was the fact some Americans were covered by neither private health insurance nor a government program, like Medicaid. It was for the sake of this minority of Americans, less than 16 percent of us, that our entire healthcare system was “reformed.” And that reform left us with three groups: those still paying the full price for private sector insurance policies, Medicaid, and the new program of subsidies. Why didn’t the Democrats just expand Medicaid rather than institute the new subsidy program?
It’s because the Democrats didn’t want the subsidy patients; many of them would be extraordinarily expensive; they were basically uninsurable. So the Dems foisted them off on the private insurance companies, and forced the companies to adopt new policies: “guaranteed issue,” “community rating,” and the mandates to purchase health insurance. They also provided “risk corridor” bailouts to the health insurance companies, and cost-sharing subsidies that were designed “to lower the deductibles, co-pays and other out-of-pocket fees for nearly half the customers.” ObamaCare also levied a bunch of new taxes. None of these new policies and programs has much to do with the free market and with properly functioning private insurance businesses.
The GOP’s mantra on ObamaCare is “repeal and replace.” But what are they trying to replace? Much of ObamaCare is welfare: an expansion of an existing program, Medicaid, and a new form of welfare, the aforementioned subsidy program of tax credits that aid in the purchase of private-sector insurance policies. So replacing ObamaCare is in part replacing something that for the many Americans is free. What are you going to replace it with, something that they pay for?
Replacing the private side of ObamaCare should be the easier task. It’s replacing the public side that will prove more difficult. You see, folks have gotten used to free stuff; they think it’s their right. Some folks on the dole may even think that they have a right to the same quality and amount of healthcare as someone who pays for it themselves. But here’s a question for Bernie Sanders and his “useful idiot” acolytes: If healthcare is a right, then how on earth can the government mandate that citizens buy it? Under ObamaCare some Americans seem to have more “rights” than others, because healthcare is given to them. But if something is free for some but not free for others, then it’s not a right.
Americans should consider that entwining the private and the public is a feature of corporatism. If the federal government wants to provide free healthcare for the indigent, then fine, but keep it separate from the private system. There should be two separate systems, a private one and a public one. But the Dems have mixed the two together, playing havoc with the pricing mechanism for healthcare. And to top it all off, under Obamacare there are tens of millions of Americans still without health insurance; about 28.5M by one count, (and here’s why).
Assuming they weren’t deliberately trying to destroy the private health insurance industry, the Democrats didn’t know what the devil they were doing when they came up with ObamaCare. ObamaCare’s subsidy program needs to be abolished. Republicans should resist any idea that they can fix the subsidy program, and just summarily dash it back to Hell. It is much too generous. The needier Americans receiving subsidies can be put on Medicaid, which is what should have been done in the first place.
Jon N. Hall of Ultracon Opinion is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City.