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The “vicious heart” of Obamacare

Posted by Richard on December 10, 2009

Robert Tracinski urges opponents of government-controlled health care to stop being distracted by all the blather about abortion funding and the "public option." Those are merely sideshows:

Three provisions constitute the vicious heart of the Democrats' health-care overhaul.

The first is "guaranteed issue" and "community rating." This is the requirement that insurance companies have to offer coverage to people who are already sick, and that they be limited in their ability to charge higher rates for customer who pose a higher risk. The extra expense to the insurance companies of covering people with pre-existing conditions will get passed on to existing customers in the form of higher premiums. But why spend years paying these inflated premiums for insurance you're not using, when you can get exactly the same benefits by waiting until you actually fall ill? …

Rather than increasing the number of insured by making health insurance more affordable, this bill makes health insurance more expensive and increases the incentive to simply drop your insurance until you need someone to pay for your medical bills. …

Following the usual pattern of government intervention, the health-care bill offers another intervention as the solution for the problem created by the first. The "individual mandate" requires everyone to buy health insurance and subjects us to a tax if we fail to do so. …

… Congress didn't have the guts to make this new tax very large—only $750. Yet actual insurance can cost more than $3,000 per year—and as we shall see, this legislation goes out of its way to drive up those rates by mandating more lavish coverage. So we end up getting the worst of both worlds. This provision won't actually drive anyone to buy health insurance and prop up the risk pools for those who are insured. All it will accomplish is to create a brand new form of tax.

But the biggest power-grab in the bill is the government takeover of the entire market for health insurance. The bill requires all new policies to be sold on a government-controlled exchange run by a commissioner who is empowered to dictate what kinds of insurance policies can be offered, what they must cover, and what they can charge.

Right now, your best option for reducing the cost of your health insurance is to buy a policy with a high deductible, which leaves you to pay for routine checkups and minor injuries (preferably from savings held in a tax-free Health Savings Account) …

But the health-insurance exchange is intended to eliminate precisely this kind of low-cost catastrophic coverage. Its purpose is to force health-insurance companies to offer comprehensive coverage that pays for all of your routine bills—which in turn comes at a higher price. So under the guise of making health insurance more affordable, this bill will restrict your menu of choices to include only the most expensive options.

So there we have the real essence of this bill. It restricts our choice of which insurance to buy and pushes us into more expensive plans. At the same time, it destroys the economic incentive to purchase insurance in the first place and replaces insurance with a free-floating tax on one's very existence. 

Forget Harry Reid's nonsense about a "compromise" that eliminates the "public option." This monstrous (in every sense of the word) bill, even without the much-debated "public option," is guaranteed to destroy the insurance industry and eventually drive us all into the functional equivalent of Medicaid. It will lead to single-payer with a vengeance, turning health care into a gigantic welfare program. We'll have no choice but to be its "beneficiaries." Ask someone on Medicaid or a health care provider serving Medicaid clients how desirable that is. 

This isn't about "choice" or "affordability" or even "access." It's about control, folks. They want more control. It's unconstitutional as hell, dangerous as hell, and evil as hell. Call or write your senators and tell them not just "No," but "Hell, no!"

Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters. 

— Daniel Webster

Full disclosure: I have exactly the kind of coverage that Tracinski has — a high-deductible health insurance policy coupled with a Health Savings Account. I love it. I think encouraging more people to embrace this option would go a long way toward addressing the problems with our current health care system.

Does your car insurance cover oil changes, tire and battery replacements, and other routine maintenance? Of course not! Insurance should be for unanticipated expenses. A high-deductible health care plan works just like your car insurance — it covers unanticipated or "catastrophic" expenses (my United Health Care policy also covers "preventative care," including annual physicals — like paying for oil changes to encourage you to do them to minimize future costs). 

In any case, both the Senate and House versions of Obamacare go out of their way to eliminate such patient-centered, consumer-controlled choices. They're determined to substitute their choices for yours. The Senate's POS "compromise" legislation would outlaw such an option.

Even if you're not sure such a plan would be right for you, don't you think that option should be available? Email or phone (PDF) your senators! Now!

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