Health care reformers have it backwards
Just when you thought government couldn’t apply less common sense to anything they do, they go out and shock the world again with the Baucus bill. This bill is tough for liberals to defend as the problems it will create will outweigh the benefits it’s supposed to bring.
The first point that needs to be noted about health care in this country is that, although there is massive waste and inefficiency, I believe that the health care as provided in this country is amongst the best in the world. The problem with health care is not the quality but the high costs that are constantly rising. The top goal of reformers should be to make health care more accessible and affordable for working Americans. Unfortunately, the Baucus bill will do anything but make health care affordable.
The problem I want to examine is that it mandates that everyone must purchase health care coverage starting in 2013. But what about those who cannot or do not want to pay for the insurance? Under the current proposal, they will be fined between $750 per person and up to $1,500 per family, for those below the poverty line and $950 per person to $3,800 per family for those with incomes three times the poverty level on an annual basis, according to a Heritage Foundation report.
Why does this matter? Well, the consequences should be obvious. If insurance is going to be compulsory, companies are going to have to provide coverage to all Americans, regardless of pre-existing conditions. Everyone who is sick and does not have coverage will jump into the system. However, insurance companies only profit when clients don’t require more money from the company then they are paying in premiums. In the best case for insurers, they collect premiums and don’t actually need to provide anything for clients. Insurers will not be making money off of the people who will immediately require care when this plan is implemented. So what do you think the insurers will do when they start losing money? Raise premiums, making expensive health care even more so.
Scott Serota, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield, said in an interview with Neil Cavuto on Friday that his company projects that health care premiums could, “go up over a five-year period as much as 50 percent.” His issue with the system is a simple one. If people who are young and healthy can avoid getting health care coverage by paying a fine, they will. When they actually become sick and need care they will get it at the same price as everyone else because insurers will be unable to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. If nobody is forced to pay into the system, the only people who will pay in are those who need care. Those who need care will be hurting the balance sheets of insurers because they will be requiring insurers to pay for their care. All insurers will be doing in this system is losing money unless they massively raise their premiums, which is inevitable.
The primary change to the system under this bill will be to make health care even more unaffordable.
This should be obvious to any smart and fair-minded individual. I am willing to speculate that it is also obvious to President Barack Obama that insurers will have to raise their premiums by ridiculous amounts if this bill is passed, making health care provided by private insurers unaffordable. I think it is possible that Obama, Pelosi and Reid are trying to drive these companies out of business to justify government-controlled health care. There is no other explanation for such an ill-advised bill being considered by our government despite the warnings of anyone who is applying common sense and reason.
The goal of the bill should be to make health insurance more affordable to all Americans. Those who argue that the goal of reform should be to make sure every American is covered needs to re-examine their position. They have to understand that if health care is made more affordable, then more of the uninsured will be able to acquire coverage, thereby killing two birds with one stone: more people insured and more affordable coverage for everyone.
There are market-based solutions that can help solve the problems of health care affordability without overhauling the whole system, which, under the current proposal will lead us down a path to socialized health care. Everyone agrees there are massive inefficiencies in the current system and everyone knows the U.S. already spends the most money per capita in the world on health care. The system we have needs to be made more efficient, not overhauled. A race to socialized health care is the last change this country needs right now.
Alex Perry is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com.