FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Power means privilege
When the first big stories of ObamaCare “doc shock” began to circulate, and it dawned on Americans that they might not be able to keep their doctors under Barack Obama’s health care scheme – contrary to another of his absolutely unambiguous, often-repeated promises – Zeke Emanuel was sent out to conduct spin control. He might not have been the best choice for the job, because he tried to excuse Obama’s second Big Lie by explaining that what the President really meant is that rich people will be able to keep their doctors if they like them. “Look, if you want to pay more for an insurance company that covers your doctor, you can do that,” said an exasperated Emanuel. “It’s a matter of choice.”
Anyone remember Barack Obama saying anything vaguely similar to that between 2008 and 2012? Nope? Didn’t think so.
This dopey talking point grinds onward in a Christmas Day editorial from the Washington Post, which tried the novel approach of claiming Obama’s failed Big Government program – the longest, thickest tentacle ever to slither out from the perpetually growing bulk of the Leviathan State – is somehow an example of free market economics:
Meantime, the ACA obliges insurers to compete for business on new and more transparent markets. Insurance companies have generally responded by offering policies at a range of price points and a range of networks. If people want a wide network with lots of doctors participating, they can pay for one. If they would rather keep their premiums down, they can buy into a narrower network or sign up for a plan that demands they pay more of their health costs. For the uninsured — a huge portion of those who will be on the ACA’s new marketplaces — any of those would be a step up. After factoring in government subsidies, many transitioning off policies they had in the individual insurance markets will have a good deal, too.
The ACA won’t leave everyone better off. There will be a few people who will end up having to pay more than they used to for access to networks of comparable size. There are also some places that don’t have enough competitors in the marketplace, which means some people won’t have every option.
I ask again: does anyone remember Obama promising you’d be able to keep your doctor if you liked your doctor, and you were willing to pay more for the privilege? Have you got a single example of that, Washington Post editors? Nope? Didn’t think so.
There is absolutely no reason to be happy about anyone getting a “good deal” because of government subsidies – welcome to welfare dependency, Middle Class! Kiss your independence goodbye! – but at any rate, only in the fairyland of the WaPo editorial lounge could anyone talk about “good deals” with a straight face. Doc shock was the second horseman of the ObamaCare apocalypse; sticker shock is the first. USA Today notes that a lot of middle class folks are finding those promised subsidies mighty hard to come by:
More than half of the counties in 34 states using the federal health insurance exchange lack even a bronze plan that’s affordable — by the government’s own definition — for 40-year-old couples who make just a little too much for financial assistance, a USA TODAY analysis shows.
Many of these counties are in rural, less populous areas that already had limited choice and pricey plans, but many others are heavily populated, such as Bergen County, N.J., and Philadelphia and Milwaukee counties.
More than a third don’t offer an affordable plan in the four tiers of coverage known as bronze, silver, gold or platinum for people buying individual plans who are 50 or older and ineligible for subsidies.
Those making more than 400% of the federal poverty limit — $47,780 for an individual or $61,496 for a couple — are ineligible for subsidies to buy insurance.
ObamaCare’s bronze plans are vastly inferior to the insurance plans killed off by the President’s health care scheme. You might finally enjoy vaginal ultrasound coverage for the 26-year-old son living in your basement, rocking a flannel onesie, and sipping hot cocoa, but you pay more – even with the subsidies – for coverage with higher deductibles that doesn’t let you keep your doctor. The plans that do give you provider flexibility comparable to pre-Obama insurance cost a damn fortune.
The net effect is a regime that will actually benefit the super-rich more, by herding everyone else into limited provider networks. That should cut down on time spent waiting in the lounges of the best doctors, for those who can still afford to see them.
That’s something to contemplate while you’re convulsed with laughter over President Obama’s decision to finally make a symbolic enrollment in his health care scheme… after three months of putting the American people through hell… by sending a horde of staffers to handle all the paperwork for him. You can judge the success of the Administration’s much-ballyhooed Healthcare.gov renovations by the President’s continued unwillingness to touch that festering pile of crony-capitalist garbage with a ten-foot pole, even when his choice of ObamaCare plans makes absolutely zero difference to the quality of health care he will receive.
Guest-hosting for Rush Limbaugh today, Mark Steyn observed that when the great mass of twisted laws crushing the rest of us don’t apply to the Ruling Class, the only kind of republic you’ve got is the banana kind. In fact, privilege always accompanies power. The more compulsive power government exerts over society, the higher the aristocracy floats above the rules. If we got our freedom back, and created a market-based health care system – not the voodoo-doll simulacrum of free markets envisioned by the Washington Post editorial board – the President would still get better health care than you and I. The difference is that you and I wouldn’t be obliged to jump through a thousand hoops he doesn’t have to worry about, fill out the mountain of paperwork he hands off to his imperial retinue, and pay more money to get lower-quality insurance. We wouldn’t be forced to obey laws the aristocracy doesn’t even make a spirited pretense of respected.
The more restricted citizens become, the more liberated the Ruling Class feels. It’s hilarious to hear leftists like Obama whine about “income inequality.” If you want to see what that really looks like, go to one of the collectivist basket cases that have followed Obamanomics to their logical conclusion. You’ll never see a smaller group of people living with greater opulence than socialist tyrants who loot their wealth from a captive population. And unlike the captains of industry liberals are always slandering as robber barons, the rich and privileged elite of collectivist states don’t return anything of value to their societies. Those who do not become rich by selling become rich by taking. I don’t have any problem choosing which social model I’d rather be poor or middle-class in.
Somehow we keep falling for the illusion of a monastic government priesthood selflessly laboring day and night to make life better for the Little Guy. That’s never how it works out. As the sphere of freedom diminishes, the Ruling Class and its partners live higher on the hog, with much of their lifestyle dependent upon granting themselves immunity from the laws that bind everyone else.
Eventually everyone with money learns the importance of buying power, or access to it, which is why the characterization of small-government conservatives as rich fatcats has grown so ludicrous. The Big Money these days loves Big Government. They make top-dollar sales to it, secure funding for their business ventures, get bailouts when those ventures fail, and benefit from rules that hurt small competitors far more than they injure the big boys. If you want to know who’s really interested in ripping off the little guy to line his own pockets, look for the people bleating most loudly about “income inequality” and the need to tame free-market capitalism with the yoke and whips of government power.
Sit back and enjoy the spectacle of ObamaCare – supposedly a super-genius plan that would improve the lives of the suffering uninsured without noticeably inconveniencing anyone else – become a vast charter of special privileges for the rich and well-connected… with everyone else beaten into the ground by a maze of mandates that annihilate what remains of the older, freer, better way that Obama says we cannot dream of returning to, taxed into submission with redistribution seizures disguised as higher insurance premiums, and controlled with subsidies that will ensure we never vote the “wrong” way again. Then tell me what some greedy capitalist pig robber baron would have done that was worse, without the power to compel obedience from a captive customer base.