Health & Wellness / Politics

Obamacare At Age Ten. Was It A Mistake?

states case win ObamacareThis piece originally appeared on Forbes.com.

There are two ways to evaluate Obamacare on its tenth birthday.

We can point to the number of people who are better off and speculate on how many more there would be if only there were more government spending and more regulation.

Or, we could point to the number of people who are worse off and speculate on how many fewer there would be if only there were less government spending and less regulation.

It’s easy to find the first approach. Pick up just about any newspaper or magazine in the mainstream media. The health care media is even worse.

The latest issue of Health Affairs has 25 articles on Obamacare, ten years on. Not a single article is focused on the plight of people who have been harmed.

So, what’s the bottom line? Is the country better off or worse off because of Obamacare? The health policy community and the health care reporters are so incredibly biased, it’s almost impossible to know.

In the early years, the New York Times was pretty good at reporting what could go wrong. A woman with a brain tumor skipped her MRI exams because of a very high deductible. AIDS patients in Florida were faced with thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs for specialty drugs. A woman in Manhattan had to go all the way to Connecticut to find a foot specialist in her plan’s network. These were heart-wrenching stories. They were investigative journalism at its best.

And then the reporting stopped. Stopped? Yes, stopped. Once it became clear that Republicans in Congress were intent on reversing course and abolishing the Affordable Care Act, the health care media circled the wagons. From that point on, the victims of Obamacare became completely invisible.

In some ways, the Republicans in Congress have been even worse than the media. Despite voting 70 or so times to abolish all or part of Obamacare in the House of Representatives, neither a Republican House nor a Republican Senate ever held a serious hearing showcasing the victims of the Affordable Care Act. They never gave the public any reason why Obamacare should be repealed – or even changed.

Yet if the news media was interested or if Congress cared to look, the carnage from Obamacare was everywhere to be found.

Many lost the insurance they were promised they could keep. Many lost access to the doctor they were promised they could continue to see. Premiums have doubled. Deductibles have tripled. Provider networks are so narrow, people with serious health problems are routinely denied access to the best doctors and the best hospitals.

What we were promised was access to the type of insurance people used to get at work. What we got instead was something that increasingly looks like Medicaid with a ridiculously high deductible.

And let’s not forget the taxpayers, who are forking over an average of almost $1,000 per household per year.

But let’s revert for a moment to the people who we are told came out ahead. How much better off are they? A lot less than you might suppose.

In the most thorough and rigorous study that has ever been done on the matter, researchers in Oregon discovered that for the newly insured under Medicaid, there was no improvement in physical health. And their reliance on emergency room doctors actually increased!

Even more astounding, the researchers found that the Medicaid enrollees valued their newly acquired coverage for as little as 20 cents and no more than 40 cents on the dollar. And about one-third of people who qualified for Medicaid enrollment actually turned it down. When all they had to do was sign up, they didn’t bother to do so.

That means if we gave these folks the cash equivalent of the cost of Medicaid, they would never buy Medicaid with the money.

Suppose the same thing is true of people getting newly subsidized coverage in the (Obamacare) exchanges. Those findings imply that we could take all the annual Obamacare money, give every newly insured individual $2,000 a year in cash instead of insurance, and add roughly $60 billion to the nation’s medical safety net – to provide better and quicker care to the uninsured.

And everybody would be better off!

What about people with pre-existing conditions?

Despite the drumbeat of fearmongering on this issue from Democrats in Congress, many people who immigrate from the group to the individual market (say because they become too sick to work) are actually worse off because of Obamacare.

Before 2010, a person with serious health problems in Texas generally had access to the state’s risk pool. The insurance was administered by Blue Cross and it gave the insured access to almost every hospital and every doctor.

Yet there is not a single health plan in Dallas/Fort Worth today that will give an enrollee access to UT Southwestern Medical School – perhaps the best medical research facility in the world.

There is no individual plan sold in the entire state of Texas that will get a cancer patient into MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

This same pattern is repeated all over the country. In fact, the insurer that has been most successful in the Obamacare exchanges is Centene – a Medicaid contractor that generally covers only those providers who will accept Medicaid rates.

Meanwhile, middle-income families who are not getting a subsidy are literally getting priced out of the individual market. Robert Laszewski gives the example of a family of four in northern Virginia which is among the 40% of families who do not qualify for a subsidy:

·     The family faces a premium of $19,484 plus a $6,500 deductible.

·     In essence, the family will have to spend $25,984 before they can collect any meaningful benefits.

No wonder almost 29 million people have decided to avoid health insurance altogether.

Reprinted with permission from - Forbes.com - by John C. Goodman

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PaulE

Of course it was a mistake. Obamacare up-ended a system that was working just fine for 95 percent of the population, all so we could provide subsidized health insurance to the 5 percent that mostly decided on their own not to be insured. All while hiking the cost of health insurance to everyone else. “Hi, I’m from the government and I’m here to help…NOT!” Unfortunately like all other federal bureaucracies, once it is started it is virtually impossible to fully dismantle. Just as the left intended.

wandamurline

It was an unconstitutional piece of crap…Roberts changed the wording from penalty to tax to make if constitutional, which in fact made it even more unconstitutional as the Supreme does not have the authority to change law. Laws and regulations like this were the reason our forefathers engaged in a revolution.

Kim

During the few short years I worked for someone else before I qualified for Medicare, the premiums were paid by the employer, but the yearly deductible went from about $1600 to $7300. Unfortunately, I felt the sting of that huge $7300 deductible when I was briefly hospitalized in 2016.

The other years, under the employer’s plan, I paid out part or most of the deductible, which ended up costing a whole lot more than my former doctor’s practice charged me when I didn’t have insurance. So, simple tests I need twice a year, which cost me $156/yr with my old doctor, cost about $800 with insurance. (That’s in addition to the assorted other trips to the deductible…er, doctor. And yes, I realize I was covered for major events.)

So, how can anyone say that Obamacare would lower medical costs? Big mistake.

Scott Williams

Better or worse? WORSE, regardless of whether or not it saved even a single life it cost us what was left of our Liberty and the Republic we once had.

phil bronner

It was not only a mistake….it was unconstitutional. There is NO power in the Constitution authorizing the federal government to take over 20% of the private sector economy…NOR to FORCE all Americans to purchase a “good”. It was but one example, probably the most transparent of osama’s attempt to destroy this country. How an America hater got elected, not once, but twice to the highest office in the land is a complete mystery….history will show exactly how evil, corrupt, and criminal that 8 year crime spree really was!

Dave

Within two years of obummercare going into effect, the portion of premiums I pay went up 1,400%, and have continued to increase.
My deductible has also gone from $600 to $8,000 a year, so unless I have a catastrophe, NOTHING is covered by insurance, it’s ALL out of pocket most years.
Our best insurance option was soon completely eliminated due to the “Cadillac tax”.
This doesn’t even take into account the additional taxes I pay to support obummercare supplements for the deadbeats, and for the wealthy that could afford to retire early. The middle class is truly the victim of obummercare.

Richard Hennessy

It was more than a mistake; it was an unconstitutional act of control over ordinary citizens. If Chief Justice Roberts hadn’t invented out of thin air a basis to uphold it, we would have been rid of it long ago. That we have been saddled with it for a long 10 years is a disgrace and a stain on our Country.

Robert

Lets see … you get to keep the doctor you have …. Americans will save thousands annually … and 30 million without healthcare will now have coverage. So with all that those with ObummerCare, are you able to see the doctor of your choice? Are you saving thousands annually? Oh, lest I forget, why are there still more than 30 million without healthcare? I get it … those are the ones the donkeys want to include in the obummercare that’s converted over to an all inclusive Medicare Program – an open border illegal immigrant Medicare Program for the entire American Continent! If American Citizens can’t see this for what it is … you’ve been to Disney Land too many times.

Richard

Obama made it clear that Obamacare was not intended to work — it was only to be a stepping stone to single payer.

hdsz064

I never heard what statistics were with Obamacare. There was 30 million uninsured before Obamacare. A few years after it was acted, there is still 29 million uninsured. This seemed like a lot of money going to start something and keep it going which doesn’t seem to work or benefit anyone. Why would low income sign up for obamacare which has them pay copays/ deductibles at higher prices when they can just go to ER and pay nothing.

EddieV

In one sense Obamacare never went fully into effect because Obama prevented the “Cadillac Tax” and regulations on employer provided health insurance from going into effect. Thank God for that since full implementation would have completely destroyed the health insurance market, which was maybe the whole point. As for Medicaid, way-back-when Obamacare advocates would whine over the tens of millions without health insurance. Those advocates didn’t highlight that most of those without insurance were eligible for private insurance (the “20-something” crow) or Medicaid but didn’t signup. Another chunk were folks in the country illegally. Obamacare was quintessential progressive BS. Declare a problem that affected a portion of society and implement a solution that affects nearly EVERYONE. Then justify it based on “experts” who had NEVER solved a similar problem. By the way, when liberals says “experts say” or “studies show” ask for the experts’ names and the studies names, and… Read more »

Steve Hughes

Stupid question… Not worth a read.
REALLY stupid question… But I appreciate you.

Thetruth

Obama’s fleecing of America charaded by the wicked democrats and mainstream media!!!

Shel

We will not be able to afford insurance soon. My husband is already paying high deductibles, high premiums, and high coinsurance. I just had shoulder surgery, and have paid the $3000 deductible, need to pay the $1200+ coinsurance. I can’t work, so this all comes out of one income. I was refused for disability, even though I can’t work due to my health problems.
This is hitting us every year! The year before this our teenage daughter was hospitalized, and we had $3000+ in hospital bills, plus I had to go to ER, and had to have test and biopsy, so I had to pay my deductible too. Every year we go through this and it’s taking a giant cut from our income! I had to pay $300 a month on these bills for several years. We need help! This is rediculous for Americans.

James P Daffron

Obama Care has been a Major Mistake! It disrupted the Insurance Industry. It raised Insurance rates and benefited no one! Just as many people are uninsured today as were before, but more people have higher rates & higher deductibles.

Pat k

My husband & I seriously considered getting divorced because Obamacare was costing so much. Being “single” would have allowed me to get a subsidy. Fortunately the company I work for updated their plans so I only had to pay 56 bucks a week for a plan that was pretty useless to me. Preventative care only with a $3000 deductible. So I was really just burning 56 bucks a week on something I would never or rarely use. Thank you President Trump that I don’t have to waste that money & can buy a catastrophic care plan for far less money.

no-mo-libs

Obamacare is a colossal mistake. It took devious shenanigans on the part of Harry and Nancy to get it enacted. If Manchurian McCain did not throw his hissy fit, Obamacare would be history today.

Rhonda Sims

Obamacare is another blunder forced on Americans by democrats. All that Obama did was to start procedures in tearing down and destroying America. Any president (which he does not deserve to carry that title) that would give millions of dollars to the largest terrorists groups should have been thrown into prison and the keys thrown away.

Joanned

I do give credit to Obama for facilitating the first and only National Healthcare bill unfortunately, the Bureaucrats did not support nor refine this Bill A prime example of self serving Politics at its best!!!!!

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