“Obamacare” Revisited!

June 29, 2012

G’Day!

Originally I intended to post an article on the subject of “Fairness”, but the unexpected decision by the Supreme Court to uphold “Obamacare” has placed the healthcare issue firmly back on the political table. It is expected that the House of Representatives will vote to repeal “Obamacare” in its entirety in the next few weeks and, like the fate of nearly all House proposals passed, it will die from total avoidance and neglect in the Democrat controlled Senate. This makes healthcare, along with the economy and job creation, again a key issue for the November election and one we should seriously reconsider. Therefore, the article noted above will be delayed and posted in the future.

Over a year ago I posted two articles on the subject of fixing healthcare, “How to Solve Healthcare Part I” and “How to Solve Healthcare Part II”. The suggestions proposed in these articles are as relevant today as they were last year. Because many of you may not have read them previously, I am summarizing the important points of these articles below. Reconsider them carefully in light of the current situation, follow closely the proposals put forward, and vote accordingly in November.

First, while I am deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court decision, perhaps its most troubling aspect is the justification by Chief Justice Roberts of the “Mandate” on the principle that Congress has the power to tax in order to force us to buy products consistent with laws they pass. This seems to open a new Constitutional power for Congress to dictate what we should (or should not) buy or to “tax” us if we do not comply. In this case we must buy insurance or a penalty (now considered a “tax”) for non-compliance will be imposed. What are the limits of this new power? Can the federal government demand that we buy (or not) certain foods or buy specific energy sources (or not) or buy other specific products (or not) or we will be penalized (“taxed”) into compliance? This is a troubling development that was not in the original bill and now permanently stands as a constitutional Supreme Court ruling regardless of the ultimate fate of “Obamacare”. This is not a good outcome.

Next, as stated in the two articles referenced above, “Obamacare” will only increase costs, undermine individual freedom of choice, result in jobs lost in the private economy, reduce competition, increase government size, spending, regulations, and ultimately lead to government-only rationed health services & treatment. This is still true. Nothing has changed. If anything, the damage to the economy and free markets from “Obamacare” has become even more obvious to all except Obama and his hardcore supporters. Obama’s tax and spend supporters actually want fewer freedoms for citizens, bigger government, and more control over individuals, private property, and business. “Obamacare” is just another big government program of tax and spend, which in my opinion is neither necessary nor desirable for the country. As I said in the above articles, there are free market solutions available, which would expand individual choices and minimize or prevent a government takeover of healthcare. The Republicans are right to oppose the bill, but the question of how we can fix it, reduce costs, and maintain our freedom of choice is still an issue. Perhaps the biggest question to be answered is, “Who should make healthcare decisions, the government or the patient in consultation with his or her doctor?” For me, given my belief in personal liberty and the effectiveness of free markets, individual freedom of choice is the correct answer.

In the two referenced articles the major issues upon which there is general agreement for improvement were identified. These are still applicable: 1) cost reduction, 2) coverage for “pre-existing conditions”, 3) patient choice in doctor selection & treatment, 4) portability of existing coverage in relocation, 5) coverage for catastrophic events, 6) tort reform, and 7) coverage for those involuntarily uninsured because of need. In the referenced articles I explain why largely non-government free market alternatives to “Obamacare” can provide specific solutions to each of these issues. We can do this at lower cost, with greater freedom of individual choice, and without an intrusive and expensive government takeover of healthcare in America. President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society introduced the Medicare and Medicaid programs that started us on our current unsustainable healthcare path to ultimate fiscal collapse. We need to curtail these programs to cover only the truly needy not expand these unsupportable models for our future.

Simple and rational changes can and should be pursued such as:

  • Insurance competition across state lines,
  • Repeal/amend the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945, which exempts insurance companies from anti-trust acts,
  • Require portability of existing policies when relocating,
  • Enact tort reform (capped punitive damages and “loser pays”),
  • Create a national catastrophic healthcare insurance pool (similar to “Flood Insurance”,
  • Require coverage of pre-existing conditions with appropriately higher premiums (like car insurance for bad drivers),
  • Elimination of employers from the healthcare system with the current tax-deductible payments going directly to the employee with the option to buy his or her own insurance (also tax-deductible) (see “How to Solve Healthcare Part II” for details).

All of these changes except the last should be doable with some common sense and a little political will and are explained in greater detail in the original articles.

Healthcare should be a choice and responsibility of individual citizens in a nationwide market-driven economy. Let’s keep our government’s role at the minimum necessary to provide a competitive level playing field and a safety net for only those in temporary need and medical catastrophes.

“Obamacare” is another big government socialist attempt to take over our country, reduce our freedoms, and control our lives. Individual choice in a competitive free-market economy is the best way forward. Study the issues and policies carefully and vote accordingly in November.

The Old Guy PhD