ObamaCare. No, it's not dead. Not even close. Yet, with Monday's ruling that ObamaCare's individual mandate is unconstitutional, there is some hope on the horizon that the foray into enslaving America in a government-dictated insurance scheme may yet be repealed, outlawed, or just thrown into the ash heap of really, really bad ideas.
There is so much wrong with ObamaCare that it could fill an entire post (and then some), but that is not the reason for this post.
The reason for this post is very simple: First, we need to recognize that government is the problem with America's health care costs, not the solution. Second, we need to start coming up with some fresh and bold ideas in the eventuality that we can slay the beast of government-run healthcare once and for all. Even if ObamaCare is repealed in House, unless there are 67 senators who can be dragged away from the altar of closed-market health care to override a presidential veto, 2013 is the earliest ObamaCare can be aborted—but then what?
As a small business owner who just got hit with a $3600 insurance premium hike for 2011 and who will be paying (at a minimum) $177,500 over the next ten years just for the "privilege" of having one family covered with insurance, you can be assured that my points are more than mere rhetorical ones. If I had my druthers, I would have a catastrophic-only plan that covers emergencies and life-threatening illnesses, and pay the rest out of pocket. I'd probably save well over $125,000 in the next ten years with a plan like that—if one existed.
The problem is, a plan like that doesn't exist...can't exist. Why? The government bureaucrats won't allow it. In our state, there are, by law (or regulation), only three types of insurance, provided by three insurers. It is a closed market scheme. In addition, let's just say (for the sake of discussion) that a plan like that did exist in the next state over and I wanted to purchase it. I couldn't do that either—because the government bureaucrats have created an artificial wall that won't allow insurance to be bought across state lines. You see, in this simple and real small-business example, already government is the problem—and we're paying the price.
Last year, when Nancy Pelosi went on her lunatic rant about insurance carriers being "immoral", it was the epitome of hypocrisy—sort of like the Devil calling demons evil for doing what their master taught them to do. [Too harsh?...What is it then, if not evil, for those who purposely unleash a disease to also claim to be the cure?] People who claim that insurance companies have monopolies don't realize that it is Congress that created the monopolies to begin with. That is why Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barack Obama, and the rest of their ilk, have been so disingenuous in shoving ObamaCare up America's rectum.
Like a healthy person going for a checkup, and going home with herpes, America has been gamed, lied to, and tricked into believing that health care is incompatible with a free market—lied to by the very people who claim to have the cure. Democrats and their union coaches have become nothing more (or better) than snake oil salesmen.
Yes, the cost of health care has risen exponentially for years. Health care costs have destroyed incomes, cost American jobs, caused strikes, and bankrupted companies. But it's not due to a lack of government, it's because of too much government. It hasn't been the fault of the free market, as the socialist union bosses and the Marxist Democrats claim, it has been because it has not been a free market. If America wants to blame anyone, we should blame those who have been controlling and gaming the system—the bureaucrats and their union bosses—who now claim that more bureaucracy is the cure.
So, before we continue talking about "how government should fix health care," perhaps it's time we recognize how government caused it to be broken in the first place. Let's begin looking at the true reason why the cost structure has been so blown out of alignment. And, then, perhaps more will understand why we need to tell government to get out of the way—now!
Last year, as the heated rhetoric of the health care debate was raging all across America, John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that provided some market-based alternatives to the monstrous big-government scheme that has become ObamaCare. While Mackey's piece was brief, the Left's reaction to it was extreme.
Immediately, the attack dogs from the unions launched a nationwide boycott of Whole Foods, Mackey was attacked personally, and the Left screamed hysterically. To see the Left's ridiculous reaction indicated that they felt threatened by Mackey's ideas—which meant they were probably pretty good ideas. While you can read the entire Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare here [and it is worth reading in its entirety], below is the main thrust of Mackey's ideas:
Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs). The combination of high-deductible health insurance and HSAs is one solution that could solve many of our health-care problems. For example, Whole Foods Market pays 100% of the premiums for all our team members who work 30 hours or more per week (about 89% of all team members) for our high-deductible health-insurance plan. We also provide up to $1,800 per year in additional health-care dollars through deposits into employees' Personal Wellness Accounts to spend as they choose on their own health and wellness.
Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time. Our team members therefore spend their own health-care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. Our plan's costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of worker satisfaction.
Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair.
Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.
Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance by billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual customer preferences and not through special-interest lobbying.
Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.
Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost. How many people know the total cost of their last doctor's visit and how that total breaks down? What other goods or services do we buy without knowing how much they will cost us?
Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility.
Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren't covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
While there are likely other ideas that are out there, Mackey's ideas serve as a good starting point for debate and discussion as to what we will "replace" ObamaCare with, if we can ever get to that point. However, if we are not serious about coming up with solutions that truly reflect a market-based system, as opposed to a government run bureaucracy, there is no point in trying to repeal ObamaCare. If politicians on the Right think they can replace big bureaucracy with little bureaucracy, it will fix nothing, we'll be right back where we were two years ago, and we're wasting our time.
In healthcare, as in all other areas of life, we can either choose freedom and a free market, or we can choose to be our brother's' keeper—and he our keeper—but you can't have both. Freedom is incompatible with a government bureaucracy making life and death decisions. And, in healthcare, we can't just be against ObamaCare, and not be for something to replace it. The question is, can we take the steps to beat the bureaucrats back? And, if so, then what?
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776