As Republicans wrestle health insurance bill, can the market be freed?

medicine bottle

Photo of medicine bottle/CDC

Republicans are currently wrestling the health insurance bill aimed at replacing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act commonly called Obamacare. For years, I’ve written about PPACA, and virtually every misgiving I had was substantiated as the bill was implemented.

Something I found in my paper clutter here at home reminded me that government intrusion is always costly. 

I remain hopeful, but I also remind myself that the federal government set loose on US healthcare is a disaster waiting to happen regardless of party. Democrats continue the socialist push for single payer despite the outrageous fraud plaguing existing government insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Fraud in Medicare is so systemic, the government created a Strike Force to address it, complete with a Most Wanted’ list.

While we can hope for relief, those of us paying into employer sponsored plans and other types, we are going to have to accept that as long as the federal government manages a market that is reportedly 1/6 of our economy, we will see prices increase. The federal government’s insertion into a market customarily makes it more expensive—another example would be tuition at colleges who are accustomed to generous student loan packages.

Republicans have campaigned against PPACA since it was passed with one-party support and very little transparency, evidenced by then-speaker Nancy Pelosi’s famous remark about having to pass the bill to see what’s in it.

In my opinion, American consumers hold real power when it comes to health insurance but we are too fearful to use it.

You want true healthcare reform? Get every single American who isn’t getting insurance free to drop their coverage. If millions of us did that, we would see true reform after an admittedly volatile market shakeup. We won’t do that, of course. Even when freedom is at stake, we are risk averse.

Not long ago I was talking politics with some friends who asked me what I would tell the GOP about healthcare. I responded that Republicans should have done tax reform first, including killing taxes in the PPACA. Bear in mind the Obama-signature bill was not a healthcare bill. It was a tax bill, and it had hefty hikes ahead, including hikes once the president left office.

Among those hikes were taxes on medical devices, taxes on health insurers, and even indirect taxes on ‘special needs children’. A number of the taxes Democrats built in to pay for the bill were either waived or frozen, including the Cadillac Tax. Dems knew that tax would not sit well with union organizations who are among the most loyal to their party.

Taxes are always passed along to the consumer.

One of the worst aspects of PPACA was the Independent Payment Advisory Board. If you believe the federal government can control a financial market and not impact the type of healthcare you receive and the method of delivery, you are not being honest with yourself. As baby boomers continue to age, I have no doubt we will, if we stay on our current path, see rationing and a continuing decrease in sound medical policy regarding the elderly. Having witnessed care rendered to three of my elderly loved ones, I can say if you have a parent or grandparent in the medical loop, obtain records and take an active role in their care.

What will the Republicans’ Senate bill look like? We will soon see, but until we permit more creative approaches to healthcare and until we free the market from the chains of collectivism (or Marxism), we will continue to see a troubled market.

This past weekend I was going through boxes of old paperwork in an effort to declutter, and I came across a statement from our health insurer in 2007. In 10 years, our co-pay for a doctor visit doubled.

Thus far, I don’t see many in Washington who are approaching the healthcare issue from a free market standpoint. Until they do, those who work will pay tabs for healthcare for those who don’t and for those who can’t or won’t. As the feds increase subsidies, the cost tab will increase for the rest of us.

I’ve always believed PPACA was intentionally designed to fail because that would open the door for single payer. I hope we are not that stupid. One example of the fallout is Massachusetts’ Romneycare. We will all be Romneycare if a free market approach is not applied to the Obamacare replacement.

Next time you hear a collectivist like Al Franken in the US Senate (D-MN) accuse the GOP of wanting Americans to die, or you see that propaganda ad showing Paul Ryan (R-WI) push a granny off a cliff, remind yourself that either way, when the central powers control healthcare, there will never be enough to go around regardless of the party in charge.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/June 27, 2017)

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About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.

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