Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Obamacare is Not the End of the World by Caleb Wright

Is Obamacare bad? Sure. Is it the apocalypse? No.

Let’s face it: healthcare driven solely by profit is a horrible idea. People who don’t understand economics speak of the “free market” or the “invisible hand” as some kind of perfect entity, capable of driving society to utopia. Unfortunately, people suck. When it comes to a choice between helping others and making money, most people will choose to make money. The healthcare industry is no exception.

The idea of making health insurance less expensive, even for people who cost more, is an admirable one. The Affordable Care Act has been somewhat effective in this. There are many technicalities regarding the enrollment rate, especially whether or not new enrollees are renewing their plans and paying premiums, but as Gallup reported:

The uninsured rate among U.S. adults for the fourth quarter of 2014 averaged 12.9%. This is down slightly from 13.4% in the third quarter of 2014 and down significantly from 17.1% a year ago. The uninsured rate has dropped 4.2 percentage points since the Affordable Care Act's requirement for Americans to have health insurance went into effect one year ago.
This is largely due to the cost assistance and subsidy programs available through the infamous federal marketplace. ObamaCare Facts, a nonprofit, found:
1 in 6 Americans can get a Marketplace plan for $100 or less. 87% of people who selected marketplace plans for 2015 got financial assistance.
Quite simply, more people are getting insurance. That’s a good thing. That’s not to say Obamacare is an overall positive thing; the Congressional Budget Office, a governmental agency, did an analysis of the labor effects of the ACA:
CBO’s updated estimate of the decrease in hours worked translates to a reduction in full-time-equivalent employment of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024, compared with what would have occurred in the absence of the ACA.
Obamacare isn’t a good thing for the economy. But, it’s also not communistic control. As my colleague aptly defined it, communism is “a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party.” Sure, the government runs the marketplace, and Obamacare expanded Medicare and Medicaid (public health insurance programs). But fundamentally, the ACA tampers with the free market, not replaces it. As the technical and ethical blog Technical Meshugana put it:
The ACA is not classic socialism so much as it’s mandatory capitalism. There is no centralized governmental control over health care being proposed here, it’s governmentally regulated mandatory participation in free market medical insurance policies that have mandates designed to reduce the insurance companies’ ability to drop coverage for certain conditions and try to reign in excessive cash cow policies, which brings us to the second point. The only people who will be deciding who lives and who dies based on financial costs are still the same people who have been irresponsibly making these decisions already for a while now: the insurance companies.
The ACA does not establish absolute governmental control. Fascinatingly, Mitt Romney agreed. As the famous liberal rag Mother Jones pointed out:
When pressed, Romney pointed out that Massachusetts residents were still purchasing private health insurance:
First of all, the system in my state is not a government-run system. Ninety-eight — 92 percent of the people had their own insurance before the system was put in place, and nothing changed for them. They still had the same private insurance. And the 8 percent of the uninsured, they bought private insurance, not government insurance. And the people in the state still favor the plan three to one.
Romney's right. Massachusetts doesn't have a "government-run" health insurance system. It has a government-regulated health insurance market in which individuals are compelled to buy their own insurance. That's exactly what the Affordable Care Act has, too. If Obamacare is socialism, then so is Romneycare. And if Romneycare is the distilled essence of free market capitalism, then Obamacare is, too.
The American diet, as my colleague pointed out, is killing us. But Obamacare doesn’t allow nutritional research panels to take away my Snicker’s. They can try to pry it from my cold dead hands, but the ACA doesn’t allow the government to control every aspect of the healthcare industry. Nor does it give every bureaucrat access to your personal health information.

Obamacare is bad; it harms employment, economic growth, and medical innovation. But the system in place before Obamacare was far from perfect. As ThinkProgress found:

When it comes to affordability and patient access, the United States ranks last among industrialized nations, according to a survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund. Researchers said the data, collected before the full rollout of the Affordable Care Act, can help officials measure the improvements made since then … A previous Commonwealth Fund survey found that Americans spend an average of $3,000 more in health care costs than some of their European counterparts.
Republicans, in opposition to the “communism” of Obamacare, say that charities should be able to provide for the poor, the needy, etc; but they aren’t. Instead of constantly complaining and voting to repeal Obamacare (as they did 6 times, plus another 48 times to partially repeal or defund), Republicans have to bring up a solution.

No comments:

Post a Comment