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The Madera Tribune

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Editor's Corner: Affordable Care Act aftermath

March 30, 2017

 

The liberals in Congress and some of the national media last week were celebrating the fact that congressional Republicans chose to withdraw their healthcare bill from a vote because it didn’t look like it was going to pass. The fact is, though, that there’s really nothing to celebrate.


The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, remains in place, and those who use it to buy healthcare services are still stuck with the worst national health insurance plan in the industrialized world.
And also stuck are the medical practitioners who are expected to deliver healthcare services through the ACA.


That the Republicans, including the Conservatives, couldn’t come up with something better that could attract votes from both parties, or use the weight of the GOP majorities in the House and Senate to force it through, is no reason to celebrate, either. House Speaker Paul Ryan didn’t show much leadership.


Meanwhile, Obamacare remains likely to implode because its costs are going up too fast. Hardly anyone who has been part of the healthcare debate will deny that.


It is as Britain’s Margaret Thatcher once said: The problem with socialism is that pretty soon you run out of other people’s money.


The Affordable Care Act hands over public money to millions of policyholders who pay little or nothing for their own coverage.


Obamacare is a kinky plan that makes no sense in the way it is administered. In Madera and in many other cities in California and throughout the nation, doctors and other healthcare providers turn away new patients if they are covered by the ACA. That’s primarily for two reasons: The plan doesn’t reimburse care providers with enough money to cover the costs of the services the patients expect, and the government-mandated bookkeeping is a nightmare with which the docs don’t want to bother. Ordinary insurance coverage requires a hair-pulling amount of bookkeeping and reporting, and having to overlook payment schedules that have nothing to do with the realities of what particular services cost.


Another problem with Obamacare has been the liberal mantra that everyone has a right to healthcare. We heard that a lot during the presidential campaign, and it sounded pretty good to a lot of people.


But that is wrong. Nobody has a right to healthcare unless that person is covered by an insurance policy or has the money to pay for the care out of his or her own pocket.


What people have is a NEED for healthcare insurance, not a right.


That isn’t unlike vehicle insurance.  Motorists have a NEED for vehicle insurance because states require them to have it in order to fulfill their obligations under the law as motorists.


The states do not buy vehicle insurance for their citizens. The motorists buy it themselves, or they go without, and lose the privilege of driving a car.


There is a healthy free market for vehicle insurance, a market in which insurers compete across state lines. Rates are highly competitive. And very often, vehicle insurance pays medical costs incurred because of traffic accidents.


It arguably would be in the public interest for healthcare insurance to be available to America’s citizens much as vehicle insurance is now.


Vehicle insurers require that policy holders be good drivers, that they drive within the law. If they get ticketed for speeding, their rates go up, or their policies get cancelled.


The same logic could be applied to healthcare policies. If the policyholder makes poor healthcare choices, that policyholder’s rates could go up or the policy could be cancelled. If the policyholder is a drunk, or a drug addict or is morbidly obese, his or her rates could go up or the policy could be cancelled.


There are companies that specialize in covering poor drivers. There just as well could be companies that specialize in covering people who make poor healthcare choices. Smokers, fork it over.


People who have prior conditions, such as cancer or heart disease, could be covered by companies specializing in such ailments.


Individuals would have to bear some of the burden of caring for themselves.


The citizens of the United States already pay more for health insurance coverage than those of any other free-world nation, and tend to get less for that money.


Obamacare was supposed to fix that. It didn’t. There’s nothing to indicate that Ryancare, as the substitute for the ACA had been dubbed, would have been any better.


The Democrats will never change Obamacare, and the Republicans didn’t have the prescription for it, either. Why not give the conservatives a chance?

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