ACA opposition article
Did you know that in 2012, 245 billion was spent on diabetes; directly and indirectly, up 41% from the $174 billion spent in 2007. This trend in increase is expected to continue for the next 5 years bring spending in 2017 to $345.5 billion. In 2012, 1 of 5 health care dollars was spent on diabetes according to diabetes.org. Why do I bring this up in an article about the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare)? Type II diabetes is responsible for 95% of the spending ($232.75 billion) on diabetes. Of the people with type II diabetes 90% of them could have prevented, reversed and usually eliminated this disease from their life with simple lifestyle changes and exercise, but chose not to or simply are not aware they can. This would be a savings of over $209 billion in 2012 alone. Is it our responsibility as Americans to pay for peoples unhealthy lifestyle habits in the form of providing them health care? I don’t believe it is. If I am required to purchase or help contribute to someone else’s health care, shouldn’t I have a say in how they could and should be costing me less money? I say sure but then that would be infringing on one’s rights as an individual, correct? So by that rational, requiring me to pay for someone’s health care is an infringement on my rights according to the constitution as the founders intended it. I know the Supreme Court decided otherwise, 5-4 against my opinion and the Founding Fathers. That means that it could have easily went the other way if but for one Justice’s vote, but I digress. I do not feel it is my obligation to pay for the poor lifestyle choices of others. There are other reasons that the ACA is supposedly good and bad for as well. I will address these shortly as well as simple recommendations for fixes other than a national mandate on individuals. Paying for others poor and unhealthy lifestyles in the form of providing them health care seems highly unethical.
According to an article on mises.org, there are four main reasons for the major increases in health care costs since the 1940’s and all are related to government intervention. Here they are:
1. The employer-based health care model. Employers began offering health insurance in the 1940s due to government incentives. The problem? Consumers became less likely to discriminate on cost because they aren’t actually paying for much of the services. In turn, health care providers become less competitive, raise fees, and the free market suffers. Health insurance companies charge more because we never see the price.
2. Requiring licenses to practice medicine. This one caught me off guard, but Boyapati argues that “many medical procedures and decisions about prescriptions could be handled by nurses or medical technicians rather than doctors, whose labor is more expensive.”
3. Obesity. The rise in health care costs has paralleled the usage of high fructose corn syrup, which is cheaper than sugar. Of course, corn growth is subsidized by the government. Calories from corn syrup are less healthy than those from sugar. Corn syrup made unhealthy foods even cheaper.
4. Pharmaceutical patents. Boyapati references one drug that cost $10,000 initially but dropped to a price of $712 when a generic drug was offered. The “actual cost of bringing drugs to market is substantially lower than the estimates produced by the pharmaceutical industry — a group with a vested interest in lobbying for strong patent protections,” he says.
To address why I am even writing this article, I would like to recap the history of how this ACA became law. The senate tried for months with different versions of this bill and could never get a majority (60) votes to pass it in a normal legislative session. So, some sneaky politician, (they are all sneaky) decided to make it a budgetary issue and push it through the reconciliation process which only needs 51 votes and, voila, the ACA was rammed through against the people will (according to Pew andweeklystandard.com). This in and of itself was astonishing. Let’s not forget this was and still isn’t wanted by the majority of people. Congress also exempted themselves from it, that’s how great it is. A current poll, before government shut down shows the people still disapprove of the ACA law by a 54%-39% margin (Rasmussen & Pew). In 2010 the percentages were %55-%42, the majority opposing and wanting it repealed. Here is another citation from politifact.com
Since the Affordable Care Act was drafted in 2009, the poll numbers have been more or less consistent across different months and polling organizations: The approval rating has hovered around 40 percent recently, with about 50 percent disapproval and 10 percent no opinion.
So why did the senate force it through with reconciliation? It’s a money maker for the government, big pharmaceutical companies and even corporations, pure and simple. Widen the tax base, don’t allow negation on pharmaceuticals and corporations get to drop health care for their employees without providing monetary compensation despite the reduction in benefits. Win for everyone except the proletariat, as usual.
Now let’s address the real costs to the individual. First let’s imagine a student or a low income person currently with no insurance. They currently don’t have insurance because they cannot afford it. So will the ACA make it affordable as its namesake and the president and supporters claim? Well first off, the person in reference must pay their premiums of approximately $100/month plus pay a $500 deductible before any services are provided with the exception of preventative care and emergency visits. All this must come out of pocket before any benefits kick in. What happens if one gets sick in December, then pays all this out of pocket then gets sick again in February? You got it; they must pay it all out of pocket again in February before their benefits kick in. Then depending on the service provided, said person must pay $25-$35 co-pay on some procedures and could be required to pay 20% co-insurance as well. Does this sound affordable to a person who didn’t have insurance due to lack of finances initially? Not from my primary polling, and that of several other poll sites like Pew and Rasmussen, of several students and uninsured folks asked.
Now let me provide my personal situation and tell me if it sounds affordable. For my wife and myself, I currently pay $80/month. If my employer drops my insurance it will cost me over $500/month for a Silver ACA plan. That’s a %400 increase. Let me break it down further. If my employer cancels my health care, that would be an equivalent of approximately a $7000 pay cut for the year. Will I get a raise equivalent to that? I highly doubt it. Then I must pay for a Silver ACA plan costing me $6000/yr. That equates to a total loss of $13000 dollars a year for me just because of the ACA. This is only considering premiums and nothing else. If the regular deductible, Rx deductible and co-insurance are added, it would be significantly more; but I am giving the benefit of doubt to the ACA and leaving this out for now. That’s not to affordable if you ask me. Also an Rx deductible must be met before any benefits kick in for prescriptions under the ACA. I have never seen an Rx deductible and to top it off the government can’t even negotiate prices with the big pharmaceutical companies. So in short, for the two practical cases I presented above, it is not affordable. Never mind the fact that if you are late with premium payments, you can be canceled. Then you will have no health care and be fined, oh sorry, taxed for not having health insurance.
Finally I would like to present how the health care system could have been fixed with a few 5-7 page bills. All these are suggested mandates to be put on the health care insurance providers and not the individual.
Pre-existing conditions – there could have been a bill passed to mandate that insurance companies shall have certain percentage of their revenue and expenditures spent solely on clients with pre-existing conditions. This would raise the average insured family’s rates, but with my next fix it would keep those costs down.
Allow interstate commerce – this would “even the playing field” amongst insurance providers and promotes competition, driving prices down. Some say this would compromise care. If care is compromised by any carrier the client has the opportunity to shop elsewhere. This is one huge benefit of free market capitalism.
Low income persons – a mandate put in place that would require a certain percentage of net profits from insurance are allotted to fund health care for low income folks in the states in which said company operates.
Frivolous litigation –put a mandate in place to stop frivolous law suits. In our litigious society today, people sue for stubbed toes. If a law suit is considered frivolous or without merit by the court, the plaintiff will be required to pay all costs. This will cut down on court expenditures and insurance providers’ costs for attorneys, thus lowering the overall cost of insurance.
Finally, there will be a team assembled, exponentially smaller than the amount of IRS agents added for the ACA, to provide accountability and audit insurance providers.
These five actions, I believe as do many other leaders of business and economists would solve our healthcare dilemma.
Requiring individuals to purchase anything is a direct violation of the constitution as the founders meant it to be! Repeal the ACA and start from scratch. The above recommendations would be a good starting point to provide adequate health care for all.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes fact sheet: national estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.
5 The United States of Diabetes: Challenges and Opportunities in the Decade Ahead, 2010; United Health Group:unitedhealthgroup.com/hrm/UNH_WorkingPaper5.pdf