The U.S. can do a lot better than Obamacare

obama.v.GOP.health.plan

The Affordable Care Act is a bad plan.  It may be a lesser evil than the system we had before, just as the system we had before was better than nothing at all, but it falls short of what Americans have a reasonable right to expect.

Obamacare creates a captive market for the for-profit insurance companies, which in themselves contribute nothing to the availability or quality of medical care.

It is a form of privatization of social insurance, which creates a bad precident—especially ominous in the light of President Obama’s repeated statements about the need to cut Medicare and Social Security.

By design, it does nothing to control some of the main things that make health care so expensive in the United States.  In addition to locking the insurance companies into the system, it allows pharmaceutical companies to charge Americans more than what they charge Canadians and Europeans for identical products.  And it complexifies the needlessly complex existing system.

Instead of providing a universal system, it creates a means-tested system where different people give different levels of health insurance, and some are still outside the system.

While the ACA provides subsidies to low-income citizens who can’t afford health care premiums, these may in the long run turn out to be mere pass-throughs that enable insurance companies to raise their rates, just as the Pell grants to college students eventually become mere pass-throughs to the colleges.

And while it assures insurance to many people who previously were denied it, I seriously question whether either competition or federal regulation will guarantee insurance premiums are affordable. Even if government regulators are serious about keeping insurance affordable, there are many ways for companies to game the system, by providing lower levels of care, asking higher deductibles and simply making it difficult to file claims (I have personal experience with the latter).

I do recognize that Obamacare has helped many people and even saved lives.   I don’t advocate wiping it off the blackboard and going back to the previous system.  But we Americans shouldn’t accept that this is the best we can do.

LINKS

More on what’s wrong with the Affordable Care Act.

What If We Thought Of Obamacare as a New Model for U.S. Government Programs? by “Lambert Strether” for Naked Capitalism.

What Kind of a Problem Is the ACA Rollout for Liberalism? by Mike Konczal for the Roosevelt Institute.

Health Law Fails to Keep Prices Low in Rural Areas by Reed Abelson, Katie Thomas and Jo Craven for the New York Times.

More on why we may be stuck with it anyway.

You May Hate Obamacare, but It Has Saved These People’s Lives by Lindsey Davis for the Huffington Post.

Hey, Ted Cruz!  These Texans Say Obamacare Is Helping Them by Erika Eichelberger for Mother Jones.

My Skin in the Game: How Ted Cruz and the Right Want to Help Cancer Kill Me and Maybe You by Jon Schwartz for MichaelMoore.com

 

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