Monday, June 22, 2009

Obamacare is too expensive but it’s even worse than that

Most Americans are quite satisfied with the way they receive medical care under the present system. Cost of medical care has risen but so has most everything else. If Americans are satisfied for the most part with their healthcare, then why must the entire medical care system be discarded, and on a rush basis at that?

We also are told that millions and millions of people in America do not have medical insurance and the cost of healthcare is rising. We are also supposed to believe that these are such urgent matters there is no time to consider these and other problems in any sort of rational way; "reforming" healthcare must be rushed through congress right away to meet President Obama’s deadline.

To solve this newly identified “crisis”, Democrats in the House and Senate have worked mightily to come up with health care plans that would satisfy President Obama’s sense of fairness on an expedited time basis. Addressing this healthcare crisis urgently looks amazingly like the previous crises of toxic mortgages, an economy that would become non existent if a stimulus program proposed by Obama was not enacted; and we were told both of these crises had to be addressed and solved the day before yesterday; so it is with healthcare which will have the same feeble crisis-solving result.

Under the best of circumstances, other than the military, congress and the government do not function well when given a lot of time to deal with issues deemed important, let alone when done on an emergency basis. As a result we have a number of inefficient and failed government run programs and others that are totally unnecessary for the proper function of government as the founders of our country envisioned. Moreover, only by disregarding the constitution do much of our country’s laws and regulations exist – and the inevitable tinkering with what is believed by many to be at least a satisfactory, and by many others as the best in the world, will destroy medical care as we know it, probably forever.

It has never been required by those seeking to do good in the name of the government to be consistent if consistency interferes with their vision. But the issue of medical care as currently promoted by Obama and Democrats constitutes the greatest invasion of privacy ever contemplated. Some years ago the U.S. Supreme Court somehow found a guarantee of privacy in the constitution and based their decision to remove restrictions on abortion (the infamous Roe vs. Wade case) on the newly discovered constitutional right of privacy. However Obama and Democrats now propose sweeping laws and regulations that will interfere with a citizens’ right of privacy in selecting, requesting and receiving medical care. Furthermore, Americans’ private medical records will be assembled in data bases and be made available to others without their permission. Nonetheless Democrats and many Republicans are willing to subscribe to this hypocrisy.

It is also interesting to note that objection to sweeping government takeover of healthcare, fully one-fifth our total gross national product, is that the takeover will be expensive. Just how costly is debated; Obama and Democrats are low-balling the numbers and the Congressional Budget Office is estimating almost twice the Obama number. The unfortunate thing however is that both sets of numbers are surely wrong and the actual fiscal cost will likely be at least double any estimates.

However I am grateful for any opposition to the government takeover of healthcare regardless of the reason given but the reality is that there is so much to oppose that singling out only the cost seems needlessly minor.

Surprisingly Americans seem to understand that besides the cost of government-run insurance, millions of Americans would lose their current coverage if government run healthcare became law. A New York Times poll also identified other concerns Americans have about government run health care. In the event a government created a system of providing health care for all Americans would be created, 63% of those surveyed were concerned that the quality of their own health care would get worse; 68% were concerned that their own access to medical tests and treatments would be more limited; and 53% were concerned that they would be required to change doctors.

The American people know what the true costs of government-run health care would be: lower quality, less access, and less choice. As the health care debate continues, and the reality behind Obama’s rhetoric is exposed, it will be interesting to see how many people will still support a government-run health insurance plan. Unfortunately the ideas of rationed healthcare and senior citizens being deprived of healthcare, has not sunk in yet.

As a partial answer to concerns of Americans, President Obama has claimed that under his health care proposals, “if you like your insurance package you can keep it.” But the White House has begun to “clarify” the President’s claim. It turns out he didn’t really mean it. According to the Associated Press, “White House officials suggest the president’s rhetoric shouldn’t be taken literally: What Obama really means is that government isn’t about to barge in and force people to change insurance.” It is fair to interpret this assurance to mean that people will not be forced at the point of a gun to accept government healthcare but all other means are available to them.

Depending on the final outcome of the government health plan enacted by Congress, millions of Americans will lose their existing coverage. By opening the public plan to all employees and using Medicare rates, the Lewin Group, a nationally prominent econometrics firm, has said that the public plan could result in 119.1 million Americans being transitioned out of private coverage, including employer based coverage, into a public plan. With employers making the decision, millions of Americans could lose their private coverage, regardless of their personal preferences in this matter. This is a logical result since most employers would be very willing to forego cost of private insurance in favor of a government plan.

Obama, Democrats and too many Republicans are fond of saying there are almost 50 million people without health insurance and that this essentially amounts to a crime against nature. But the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reports that a government overhaul of Americans health care system would cost at least $1.6 trillion and would mean the loss of private coverage for an estimated 23 million Americans, according to a recent preliminary analysis.

Even the CBO says that, if enacted, the bills before congress would break a key promise made by Obama: that those with private health insurance would not be harmed.

The number of people who had coverage through an employer would decline by about 15 million (or roughly 10 percent), and coverage from other sources would fall by about 8 million, the report says. Such programs as Medicare and Medicaid will be replaced and the CBO concludes that the bill will have a major impact on the lives of Americans. The CBO said the Obama and Democrat plans would have significant effects on the number of people who are enrolled in health insurance plans, the sources of that coverage, and the federal budget.

Even senator Dodd, the chief Obama healthcare advocate in the Senate, says “everyone would be affected by this legislation and any reform will touch everyone’s lives; this bill is [going to affect] 100 percent of the population of our country, every consumer, every provider and every business.”

Star Parker had an interesting analysis of the alleged millions of people estimated to be without health insurance.

“According to a new study from the Employment Policy Institute, authored by two economists from City University of New York (one, June O'Neill, spent four years as head of the Congressional Budget Office), 43 percent of the 47 million can afford insurance and choose not to purchase it.

According to 2007 census data, 20 percent of uninsured households earn over $75,000.

Regarding the remaining 57 percent, the authors call them ‘involuntarily’ uninsured because they can't afford insurance. But ‘involuntarily’ is also a misnomer, because it implies no connection in how they choose to live to the fact that they can't afford insurance.

The study provides the following portrait of this population: About a third is high school dropouts; they are disproportionately young; about a third are immigrants, mostly Hispanic non-citizens; about half are single without children; about 40 percent did not work during the year.”

According to "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States," a Census Bureau report published last August, of the 45.6 million persons in the U.S. that did not have health insurance at some point in 2007, 9.7 million, or about 21%, were not U.S. citizens. Also among the uninsured are 17 million Americans who live in households where the annual income exceeds $50,000; 7 million of those without coverage have incomes of $75,000 a year or more. If they don’t have health insurance, it’s not because they can’t afford it. Subtract non citizens and those who can afford their own insurance but choose not to purchase it and the number of uninsured falls dramatically. "Many Americans are uninsured by choice," wrote Dr. David Gratzer in his book "The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care." As George Will points out, 60% of people in San Francisco without health care are not citizens (read that illegal aliens)

Do you still think it is correct to use so-called millions of people without health insurance as an excuse to demolish our medical system?

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