On Monday, July 15th, I had a “Holy Hell, Batman!! Sham-WOW! Ka-BOOM!!” moment when I read Harry Reid’s statement that “Obamacare has been wonderful for America.” Surely he isn’t claiming that all those CBO reports are fraudulent, is he?
I actually took the time to read through Obamacare. HR 3200 took me three days to read and that included me skipping some stuff. HR 3200 then became HR 3590. So as I reviewed the law to see whether Obamacare is as wonderful for America as Harry Reid thinks it is, I looked at sections from HR 3590 and at parts of the reconciliation bill as displayed by the Rules Committee. By the way, this is the bill that Nancy Pelosi said we had to pass in order to “find out what is in it.”
Here are some of the highlights that drive me crazy.
Let’s say you are young and healthy and don’t want health insurance. Maybe you are starting up a small business and need to minimize expenses. One way to cut costs is obviously to drop health insurance coverage. If you’re healthy, chances are that you won’t need it anyway. Section 1501 of Obamacare says that you have to pay $750 annually for that “privilege.” I run a small business and I have already been priced out of the market. My family’s health care premiums increased more than 100% since Obamacare passed. From June of 2006 to September 2010, I paid $484/month for 6 family members. Then, our premiums increased to $636 and then to $897. I dropped coverage after the initial increase because I couldn’t afford to rob from my mortgage to keep our health insurance. Money has been tight and keeps getting tighter. That extra $400 could represent a second mortgage payment for some!
On the other side of the income spectrum, suppose that you are a high earner. Section 9014 imposes an additional 0.5% payroll tax on any income over $250,000 for those filing a joint return and on any income over $200,000 for those filing an individual return. That amount will rise to a 3.8% tax if reconciliation passes and will also apply to investment income, estates, and trusts. (Section 1402).
You are young and healthy and want to pay for insurance that reflects that status? Not quite that easy. Your premiums are also going to subsidize the guy who smokes three packs a day, drinks a gallon of whiskey a week and eats chicken fat off the floor. Section 2701 of Obamacare prohibits insurance companies from underwriting on the basis of a person’s health status. Auto insurers provide policyholders with rates based on their performance, and “good driver” rates have had at least some effect in modifying the behavior of drivers. Under our new health care system, one can get a kidney transplant due to disease, become an alcoholic, get free dialysis and “medical holidays” and still be eligible for another transplant with insurance coverage to spare!
Perhaps you are an employer and you would like to offer coverage to your employees and their minor children. No can do. Section 2714 of Obamacare requires that you purchase a policy covering ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive/wellness services; chronic disease management; pediatric oral and vision care for employees and all dependents age 26 and younger. Yes, you even have to provide coverage to the 25 and a half year old able-bodied son living in the basement and playing Xbox all day.
Employers in the small-group insurance market won’t be able to offer policies with deductibles higher than $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families. See Section 1302 (c)(2)(A). Large employers (defined as at least 101 employees) will pay a $750 fine per employee if they don’t offer health insurance. Those fines could go as high as $3,000 under the reconciliation changes. You could always ask for a waiver, though. You’d be in good company if you got one. Destitute corporations such as McDonalds and labor unions like the SEIU have already received their waivers. Small businesses … eh … not so much. Don’t look for common sense anywhere near 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. when making these determinations.
Section 3003 (i) allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services to use physician claims data to issue reports that measure the resources physicians use, provide information on the quality of care physicians provide, and compare the resources used between one physician and another. Of course this will all be just for “informational purposes”. It’s not like the government will ever use it to intervene in a physician’s practice, patient care, or private lives. Our government would never spy on you or mine your data. Did I mention that they’ll also get access to your financial data and 10 years of tax returns – regardless of the ethics or tax code rules in existence for accounting?
Health insurers want to raise premiums to meet costs? Section 1003 states that if that increase is deemed “unreasonable” by the Secretary of Health and Human Services it will be subject to review and can be denied.
Section 1404 of the Act allows the government to extract a fee of $2.3 billion annually from the pharmaceutical industry. If you are a pharmaceutical company, what you pay depends on the ratio of the number of brand-name drugs you sell to the total number of brand-name drugs sold in the U.S. So, if you sell 10% of the brand-name drugs in the U.S., what you pay will be 10% multiplied by $2.3 billion, or $230,000,000. Under reconciliation, the “fee” starts at $2.55 billion, jumps to $3 billion in 2012, then to $3.5 billion in 2017 and $4.2 billion in 2018, before settling at $2.8 billion in 2019 – and there is joint and several liability for paying the fee. Under Sections 9008 and 9009 of the Act, Big Pharma can now prepare to face the “Pharma Press-Ganey” dummies who will determine their fate. Satire sucks when it’s so close to being true.
Under Section 1406, the government will extract a fee of $6.7 billion annually from insurance companies. If you are an insurer, what you will pay depends on your share of net premiums plus 200% of your administrative costs. So, if your net premiums and administrative costs are equal to 10% of the total, you will pay 10% of $6.7 billion, or $670,000,000. In the reconciliation bill, the fee will start at $8 billion in 2014, $11.3 billion in 2015, $1.9 billion in 2017, and $14.3 billion in 2018.
Even if we think that Obamacare doesn’t affect us, it does. I used to have a health insurance policy with a lifetime limit. Insurance companies are now forbidden to offer such policies, which will only add to the expenses in the program.
I will end up being forced to buy what the government says I need or I will pay $2400.00 in taxes while someone else gets subsidized insurance and I do without. For every meme ever thrown out about how the poor or the indigent NEED health care, that health care can’t be at the expense of the working people whose taxes fund the system and who ironically don’t earn enough to afford the insurance coverage that they are paying to give to someone else. The redistribution of our hard-earned money to pay for benefits of those who CAN work, but choose not to work – in some cases because of laws like this – will kill this country. Our founding fathers recognized that once a nation forgoes life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in favor of more power to the government, we all lose.
President Obama misled the American public multiple times. He said that we would get to keep our own doctors. I didn’t. I couldn’t afford to. He said that health care premiums would decrease. My health care premiums increased. He originally said that the plan could cost less than a billion dollars to implement. Now the cost estimate is nearly $2.6 trillion. And the plan is soooo good that Congress is now seeking exemptions from its requirements. Should that happen, there will be a movie titled “DefendUSA goes to Washington.”
There is no way that an average family of five can afford an extra $20,000 required for the bare minimum coverage required under Obamacare – especially not on an average $60,000 salary. Obamacare will destroy families who are already living on the edge. Full-time jobs will be a thing of the past. Wages will stay lower over a longer period of time. Food stamp use will explode. Government jobs will increase – but just remember that an increase in government employment equals more consumption, not more production. Where do you think that the government gets the money used to pay government employees?
As we move toward a socialized system of medical care, we need to learn from other countries. Canada has a national health system that is unable to provide access and quality care. The person who designed it now says it is a terrible model.
Our system needs change, and I don’t have all the answers, but the changes implemented in Obamacare will significantly undermine the system that we do have.
Not quite the hope and change I was looking for.