November 29, 2015
Detractors of ObamaCare are forever reciting the program’s failings: unworkable web sites, skyrocketing premiums, endless cost overruns, silly bureaucratic mandates, useless medical record requirements, bankrupt insurance co-ops along with the random cancellations of perfectly fine policies. They like to recount one of President Obama’s most famous mendacious declarations: “If you like your health insurance, you can keep it.” This is because these detractors assume that the purpose of ObamaCare is to provide health insurance. It is not. The purpose of ObamaCare is threefold: Redistribute wealth, increase the number of baseline Democrats and enrich wealthy contributors. Once this is understood, it becomes obvious that not only is ObamaCare a huge success; it is political genius. Let’s look at these points individually.
1. Redistribute Wealth. The President and his minions tacked on several taxes to finance ObamaCare, mostly on the upper middle class. Married couples who file jointly with incomes exceeding $250,000 annually ($200,000 if you are single) have to pay another 0.9% income tax and 3.8% on interest income and capital gains. While these taxpayers will elicit little sympathy from the average citizen, the real redistributor is the ability of the insurance companies to charge outrageous premiums while denying coverage. It is not unusual for small business owners to see premium increases of 30% for a policy with a huge deductable, spotty drug coverage along with random denials of payments to doctors, hospitals, radiology departments and laboratories.
Why can they do this? Because if you don’t buy the insurance, you are subject to penalty of 2.5% of your income. Since most small business owners are baseline Republicans, the President and his minions are losing few if any voters. Furthermore, the Obama administration hired thousands upon thousands of bureaucrats and IRS agents to enforce the law. This leads us to Point Two.
2. Increase the number of baseline Democrats. All these newly-minted bureaucrats will have good salaries, guaranteed pensions and outstanding federal health insurance, not ObamaCare. In fact the President wisely exempted federal workers, Congress, Congressional staffers and politically-connected unions from ObamaCare. These people will be clicking the Democratic lever for the rest of their lives. Many of these new jobs are located in Virginia, thus turning this previously purple state blue. Pure political genius.
This is just the beginning. The requirement to shift to electronic medical records along with mandates for doctors to report on patient information to the government, has spawned a cottage industry of coding technicians, software writers and data managers who rely on ObamaCare for their livelihood. More baseline Democrats.
The actual ObamaCare policies are hideous. Although inexpensive, they have huge deductibles and very few doctors participate. Thus, these patients go to the hospital emergency room. This is why to the “shock” of health care experts, emergency room visits increased rather than decreased. The hospitals have responded by doing a huge number of tests of dubious value to eat up this large deductible. Thus a patient with a mild headache will receive numerous radiological studies and create a $5,000 bill. If the patient has a $3,000 deductible, the hospital eats the deductible but keeps the surplus.
ObamaCare also increased the income requirements needed to qualify for Medicaid – the health care program for the poor. Now many lower middle class individuals, who previously found health care to be unaffordable, are insured. Since the Supreme Court ruled that individual states could refuse to participate in this mandate, many Republican Governors opted not to extend Medicaid to the lower middle class. But Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio did. Thus, threatening to repeal ObamaCare renders it more difficult for any Republican candidate to carry this crucial swing state.
3. Enrich Wealthy Contributors. Because of ObamaCare, the insurance companies are coining money. Their stock prices have almost quadrupled in value and high-level executives are taking salaries and exercising stock options worth tens of millions of dollars. They leave a small tip to the President and the Democratic Party in the form of campaign contributions. The recent threat of United Health Care to pull out of ObamaCare is nothing but a taxpayer shakedown. ObamaCare allows what are called “risk corridors,” that enable insurance companies to milk the taxpayers if they start losing money.
It would be unfair to blame President Obama for this state of affairs. He is merely exploiting the incompetence of the Republicans who never acknowledged that health care was becoming unaffordable to the middle class. All Republican presidential candidates are planning to abolish ObamaCare but offering alternatives that are nothing more than variations of the old system. This all but assures Hillary’s election in 2016. If the Republicans embraced extending Medicare for all medical expenses exceeding $75,000 a year; it would render health care affordable for everybody except for the poor, who still be protected by Medicaid. Purchasing insurance to cover a maximum of $75,000 a year would be relatively inexpensive. Unfortunately, most Republican candidates are spending their time appealing to a very narrow swath of voters and not planning for the general election. Perhaps this will change.