Blatant, misleading propaganda about Obamacare

December 19, 2012 – 1:21 pm by John

Via my Facebook feed (where else?), I came across this inane guide from Health Care For American Now called How to talk about Obamacare during the holidays. Almost every point it makes is either false or interpreted in an inaccurate, pro-government way.

Health care is too expensive. Everyone agrees with that. The ACA is the first law in 50 years to actively address rising costs in health care.

Actually, it is just the latest in a long string of laws that will make healthcare more expensive for many Americans.

We can’t just send people to emergency rooms. Sending uninsured people to emergency rooms for primary care is the costliest way to treat them. The tab for their treatment is ultimately picked up by people with insurance. The ACA will bring an end to this.

If health "insurance" were used only to insure against the risk of catastrophic illness or injury, it would be affordable to as many people as car insurance is. The only medical thing most people should be insured against is trips to the emergency room. The fact that health "insurance" pays for every little routine thing is the single most important contributing factor to our overly expensive health care system. Requiring everyone to purchase a health "insurance" plan will only make insurance premiums more expensive than they could be, for a variety of reasons. I'm sure a single-payer system could very well cut a lot of costs compared to our bastard hybrid of government–corporate collusion, but it could never be as good as a free market (as is true in every industry), and the individual mandate will fall far short of either. If cash-only doctor's offices were allowed to become more prevalent and more practical, all those people who go to emergency rooms for routine issues could easily afford to go to a regular, private doctor's office. If health insurance operated like actual insurance (catastrophic insurance), then the insurance plans would also be less expensive.

Pre-existing condition exclusions. Everyone is tired of insurance company denials.

No, we're not. Insurance company "denials" for pre-existing conditions are exactly how actual insurance is supposed to work. They are exactly what (would) make actual insurance affordable to almost everyone. What would your car insurance company say if you applied for an insurance policy to pay for an accident after it happened? What if you decided to buy renter's insurance to cover a robbery of your apartment after it happened? They might literally laugh at you.

Insurance is the collectivization of risk, an economically justifiable and financially viable enterprise. Health "insurance" in the United States and elsewhere is collectivization of costs, which is not economically justifiable on anything approaching a large scale and is not financially sound. This is why healthcare has gotten so expensive. If patients, medical practitioners, and companies don't price-shop and make decisions based on price, then prices will skyrocket out of control. If you respond that someone losing their car or their apartment isn't the same as losing their life because of denial of coverage, then you should advocate policies that will make regular, catastrophic health insurance cheaper, i.e., returning health "insurance" to real insurance and letting the free market bring down prices while increasing the amount supplied, as it has done in every other industry where it has been allowed to.

Most people already have health insurance. Because so many folks already have coverage through a job or through Medicare or Medicaid (a.k.a. the government), most people aren’t going to be affected by the requirement that everyone buy health insurance if they can afford it.

If it affects a small proportion of people, then a federal law forcing million sof people to do something they don't want to do, which will be nearly impossible to overturn and untangle when it becomes obvious that it is economically unfeasible, is an awful, short-sighted solution.

Folks who don’t have insurance now will be able to get coverage in two ways: tax credits to help pay premiums for insurance purchased through online marketplaces called “exchanges” (the subsidies will make private insurance more affordable for the first time ever) or enrollment in an expanded Medicaid program.

Translation: taking money from people who earned it to give it to people who didn't. This is not charity. Charity and fraternal societies actually used to cover much of the medical expenses and lost income of Americans and Englishmen in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Private and public hospitals used to treat the poorest patients for free or for income-proportional fees.

Note that their glib language claims that the tax subsidies will make some people's insurance "more affordable for the first time ever" while glossing over the fact that the collectivist/redistributionist nature of these subsidies will increase overall health insurance expenses because the patients who will be covered by the new insurance policies will have little incentive to be frugal or price-shop. And healthcare providers will continue to have little incentive to be frugal or compete based on price.

Also note that the sudden increase in the number of people covered by insurance will cause a sudden increase in the quantity of healthcare that they demand. Routine/urgent care for these newly insured will immediately go from expensive/unaffordable to basically free/easily affordable. This will cause an ineluctable increase in the amount of healthcare that they demand, which will be paid for by somebody (specifically, taxpayers and other insureds). Undeniably, this will be good for those newly insured people compared to their current situation, especially for those who actually needed somewhat urgent and/or expensive medical care. But this web page is claiming that Obamacare will decrease overall healthcare/health insurance expenditures, which it will not. It cannot.

The authors of this web page are also disingenuous (or outright stupid) to extoll the virtues of this newly mandated, subsidized insurance (subsidized by taxpayers and healthy insureds), while they say a mere two paragraphs earlier, "The tab for their treatment is [currently] ultimately picked up by people with insurance. The ACA will bring an end to this." You just claimed that one great thing Obamacare will do is allow formerly uninsured people to buy insurance subsidized by insureds (through the online "exchanges") or by taxpayers (through Medicaid)! That is no better than the subsidization of emergency care by insureds and taxpayers now!

You’ll have peace of mind from knowing that no pre-existing condition will prevent you or your family from obtaining care.

These people might want to read up on adverse selection. It's a bad thing. It makes insurance companies less profitable and therefore insurance more expensive. Adverse selection is a necessary consequence of prohibiting companies from accounting for pre-existing conditions.

Insurance now must cover contraception, well-woman visits, mammograms, and cancer screenings, and those can save an individual more than $1,000 a year, protect women from preventable illnesses and enable family planning.

Again, this web page cites "advantages" of Obamacare that will necessarily increase insurance premiums. If they think collectivization of costs and direct redistribution of money from the wealthy to the poor or from the healthy to the sick or from males to females or from the young (the poorest age group) to the old (the wealthiest age group) are good governmental policies despite their unsustainability and unfairness, then they should just say that instead of trying to dress Obamacare up as cost-saving, fair, equitable, or good for everyone. Contraception, routine doctor visits, and screenings are not risk-laden activities or unexpected, unplannable expenses. Therefore, they should not be covered by insurance. In fact, they are by definition not even coverable by normal insurance. The fact that everyone clamoring for non-free-market healthcare reform wants even more routine things to be covered by insurance is exactly what has made healthcare so expensive and will continue to do so.

If you want to make health insurance more affordable to everyone so that they can easily buy health insurance before expensive medical conditions arise, then you should advocate a drastic reduction in the number and types of things covered by insurance (i.e., only catastrophic expenses) and advocate unregulated, unfettered competition in the provision of healthcare. Free-market competition invariably increases the quantity and quality of goods and services supplied while decreasing their prices.

Insurance plans now provide no-cost preventive care and health screenings.

Which will also increase premiums because these screenings are required to be covered in (some or all?) insurance plans whether an individual wants them or not. The more things that are covered by insurance, the more premiums cost. If you want to limit the price of something, then let suppliers compete and let consumers price-shop. Making it "free" by hiding and collectivizing the costs artificially inflates demand and gives suppliers little to no incentive to compete based on price.

I'm sure many supporters of Obamacare will advocate price ceilings, such as those negotiated by governments and providers in single-payer healthcare systems, to combat price increases. Instead of using government fiat to mandate prices or the government's power to negotiate price ceilings with pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers, we should let the price system of the market work as it does in every other industry where it's allowed to, and end the nonsensical separation of the customer (the patient) from the payor (usually the patient's employer).

Healthcare and health insurance are not special, unique industries that need government intervention in ways that other industries don't. Rather, only a free market of profit and loss, competition, and meaningful price signals could achieve productive or allocative efficiency in such complex, dynamic industries. The increasing prices and number of uninsureds, to the extent that these are problems, have been caused by 70+ years of collusion between governments, health insurance companies, and the American Medical Association. There are thousands of laws regulating the healthcare and health insurance industries, and these have only made both of them harder to afford by artificially restricting competition and supply. There has not been a free market in healthcare in the United States in 100 years, and we have not had an actual health insurance market in over 50. The free market cannot have been the problem because it has been repressed and regulated out of existence. The free market is the solution, as it is to every other economic and material problem that humanity could ever face, and Obamacare will only distort the healthcare and health insurance markets farther from that goal.

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