The American media has lately been obsessed with the failed rollout of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. – Obamacare), however, the .com bust of healthcare.gov is merely the tip of the iceberg. The failure of a website is merely scratching the surface of the still-unforeseen problems the PPAC will push onto the American healthcare market, and the broader American economy. Even if the website is re-launched and Obamacare rebranded, the rotten core of the entire concept will remain unchanged. Make no mistake about it: Obamacare is merely Medicare and Medicaid on steroids; it is a program that will push millions more Americans onto a government-run healthcare plan that’s already insolvent and barreling toward bankruptcy.
Only in Washington could a collapsing government-run healthcare system be expanded to include every single citizen of the country. Instead of reforming the big medical entitlement programs so that they serve their original purpose, giving people a hand-up in hard times, our government has doubled-down on failure. Now, Medicare and Medicaid will be transformed into a nationalized healthcare system that will “serve” the American public like Castro’s did in Cuba; we all know how many people fly to Havana for life-saving surgeries.
Senator Obama in 2008 was right when he criticized the out-of-control costs of healthcare and health insurance. Most Americans, across the ideological spectrum, have agreed for years that the costs associated with quality healthcare were skyrocketing, making good care harder and harder to reach on increasingly-stagnated middle and lower-income wages. Instead of thoughtfully analyzing the underlying factors in these stagnant wages and rising costs, however, Senator Obama and the Democratic Party decided to double-down on government intervention into the private healthcare market. The only problem with such a plan is that it has been government intervention into the private healthcare market that has put prices on the path to orbit in the first place. Very few politicians are willing to admit that the biggest driver behind out-of-control healthcare costs is ineffective and inefficient government programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
People have been deceived about the supposed “success” of these entitlement programs. While Medicare and Medicaid were established as programs for the aged and needy, respectively, they have been transformed into permanent programs on which everyone has come to depend. The problem with this permanent dependency is that the funds paid into these programs are not sufficient to cover the costs associated with administering them, while also covering the healthcare costs they propose to cover. As such, massive subsidies have been required, and these subsidies have come from two primary avenues, both flowing from the same source: the American people. The first form of subsidy these medical programs have received has come in the form of massive federal bailouts (by Congress and the Presidents) to try and make Medicare and Medicaid more solvent. In short, this means more federal funds allocated through the federal budget. The second subsidy source has been much more concealed, though it has also come from the pockets of the American people. This less-seen subsidy has been paid by private insurance holders, who are charged more for the same medical services as Medicare and Medicaid patients. In order to cover payment short-falls from government programs to healthcare providers, doctors, hospitals and drug companies have increased prices on policyholders, in order to off-set frozen government payments.
When the government pays a healthcare provider, it sets its own rate. Thus, in order for healthcare providers to break-even when Medicare and Medicaid pays them $0.30 on the $1.00 for services, they tag that 70% discount the government gives itself onto the bill of private payers, namely people who have private health insurance plans. Since the costs of these federal healthcare programs have kept climbing, the costs of private insurance plans have taken-off as a result. Thus, the lack of available, affordable health insurance for millions of Americans has been the direct result of government intervention into the healthcare market, not the absence of it.
That’s why the entire concept of Obamacare has been so misguided from the beginning; it is absolutely backward. Instead of ratcheting-up government’s presence in the healthcare arena, a workable plan would reduce it down. A healthcare crisis caused by too little free-market capitalism, and too much government interventionism, cannot be solved by yet more government interventionism. Yet, that’s exactly what Obamacare is attempting to do: put the federal government in charge of what’s left of the world’s best healthcare system that it has already nearly crippled.
The only way to reverse the trend of unaffordable healthcare in this country is to unleash the free-market by restructuring Medicare and Medicaid to work the way they were supposed to in the first place. Tighten eligibility standards to repel abuse by people who should not receive these programs, and ensure that the people who truly need them receive a benefit that pays more than $0.30 on the $1.00 to the providers who treat them. In other words, narrow the base of recipients and improve the quality of the service, so that the excess cost overruns from an inefficient bureaucracy aren’t borne by millions of Americans trying to pay for health insurance plans that properly cover their families. Additionally, steps should be taken by the states to stop price collusion between major hospital systems and the insurance companies, so that private consumers can finally know how much they’re actually paying for medical services, instead of trying to keep pace with the shell game put in place by all this bureaucracy. These are just a few steps in a long journey toward putting patients back in charge of their healthcare in America again, and preventing misguided federal programs from putting the American healthcare system out-of-business.
In the meantime, however, the Obama Administration’s allies on the left, who still believe big government is the answer, have started placing the blame on medical professionals. Instead of finally admitting that failed government programs have made medicine unaffordable to the average American family, they are pointing fingers at the doctors who, suddenly, “make too much money.” So, instead of looking at how socialized medicine has wrecked the medical field, American liberals had rather just remove any remaining incentive for pre-med students to go to medical school by pushing for salary caps for medical professionals.
If the American people don’t stop this madness, we’ll be dying from the common cold, for no one will be able to find a doctor left who’s worth a darn, or a medical facility still standing for them to be found. This utopian vision of healthcare is shaping-up beautifully, if the goal was to ensure that all Americans have equal sharing a in a medical mess bordering on a nightmare. If polls are any consolation, this isn’t exactly the “hope and change” people signed-up for five years ago, though buyer’s remorse may be hitting past the refund deadline.