Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 1/27/17
President Trump and the Republicans in Congress promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. But the question immediately becomes, replace it with what? Another law that mixes the free market for health care and government-funded health care into a massive, unsustainable mess? Let’s sincerely hope not.
The biggest problem with Obamacare is that it imposes huge and mostly unsustainable burdens upon the very many for the benefit of the very few. At the time that Obamacare was being promoted by Democrats, the stated goal was to provide insurance to the 40 million or so people (the number was never entirely precise) who did not have health insurance coverage. That works out to about 12 percent of the population.
For this, the entire health care industry was turned on its head. And after all that, the estimate today is that 28.5 million Americans are still without health insurance.
Most Americans get their health insurance through their employers and, prior to Obamacare, most Americans were reasonably happy with the arrangement. Yes, premiums were rising and yes, employers were more and more passing those costs to their employees. But for the most part, people on employee benefit health care plans were happy. Thus President Obama’s oft-repeated (and conspicuously unkept) promise, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”
Fear of losing coverage with which they were satisfied is what drove many to oppose Obamacare in 2009 when it was being debated. It’s one of the biggest reasons that Obamacare has never enjoyed majority support among the public.
That fear of losing a health care plan with which consumers were happy proved well founded. Most people in fact did lose the coverage that they had prior to Obamacare.
In place of those plans came policies burdened with the mandates and regulations attendant to Obamacare. Costs have exploded. Premiums are way up. Deductibles are way, way up. Choices as to doctors and providers are down. It’s a mess.
All of the apologies for Obamacare notwithstanding, Obamacare at its core is little other than a welfare program. Its primary function (as opposed to its purported purpose) is to provide health coverage for people who can’t afford to obtain coverage on their own.
The vast majority of Americans pay for their health care either through private insurance (mostly provided by employers) or by reaching into their own wallets. Anything that replaces Obamacare should leave these consumers alone. Left unmolested by over-reaching bureaucrats and crushing regulation, the free market will strike a balance between availability and cost – just as it does with every other necessary product and service.
Whatever replaces Obamacare, it should address only the 16 percent or so of Americans who cannot afford their own health insurance.
A massive federal program that comingles private-market insurance with government-funded assistance, as is the case with Obamacare, will be no better in the end than Obamacare – which, we can’t help noticing, is collapsing before our very eyes.