Monday, June 26, 2017
The BIG LIE II
Remember the Big Whopper President Obama told us back in '09? Of course you do....it's been part of the Republican's talking points ever since. It's what the Democrats promised us if we would only approve the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare. As it turned out many of us couldn't keep our doctors, or the old insurance plans we had, either. BAD DEMOCRATS!
Well, get ready for The BIG LIE II, courtesy of the Republicans this time. It goes like this: If we'll just approve the ObamaCare replacement bill now before the Senate, or the one passed by the House of Representatives, our insurance premiums will come DOWN! DOWN they say!
Can I get an AMEN?
OK....exhale, engage your brain, and think about that. Here is the reality: Your health care insurance premiums are NOT going to come down. Our population is growing. More people will need more healthcare, and a smaller percentage of them will have insurance. The percentage of workers covered by employer-provided insurance is declining. That's an undeniable fact. And we are living longer, due largely to better medical technology and better, more effective pharmaceuticals. Another fact.
This technology and these medicines are expensive to develop and use. Many Baby Boomers who benefit from this miraculous 21st Century healthcare are also in a precarious financial position. After 30 years of receiving merit and cost of living raises, they're prime for being pink slipped, their jobs being taken over by younger employees who will happily work for much less. And to plug any talent shortfall, companies often just call back the very workers they separated and offer them work on a contract basis....for less money and without benefits, of course. Do I even need to mention the number of jobs that have gone overseas? More people previously insured are no longer covered. Fact!
For those still enjoying employer-provided health insurance, it's being watered down. My personal experience was that in the last few years I had such insurance my deductible went from $500 a year to $1,000, then claims were paid at 70% vs the previous 80% of the balance. After that my yearly out-of-pocket expense was capped at $6,600, up from the previous $3,000 per person, and if I used doctors outside their "network", it could be as high as $39,000. Copays per visit went from $10 to $20 ($50 for specialists). Many people may have insurance, yet they can't afford to use it. Still, our premiums went up modestly. Can you imagine how much they would have gone up without this watering down?
With a tightening cap on Medicaid, fewer people in need will be able to get regular health care. Understand, most Medicaid recipients are children, those with handicaps, and the elderly. They will still be able to visit hospital emergency rooms for treatment, but the hospitals and doctors will just have to write off any payment for their services as unrecoverable. This will require them to RAISE the fees they charge those who DO have insurance, putting further upward pressure on premiums. Again, an undeniable fact.
And without Medicaid, and for those simply without any insurance at all, there will be fewer preventive screenings. Currently, future chronic conditions can be identified early through regular checkups and treated. With more people receiving fewer preventive screenings, their conditions will fester and become much more expensive to treat later, costs that will once again be dumped back on society and eventually show up as higher premiums.
It's unlikely IMO that insurance companies will open themselves up to nationwide competition. The state Boards of Insurance, and the insurance companies, have too much power and $$$ to lose if that happens. That will be negotiated out in exchange for their acceptance of a repeal/replace bill.
Likewise it will still likely be mandated that American consumers buy their prescriptions from American pharmacies, and not be allowed to legally shop overseas. Big Pharma is now allowed to charge whatever they want here, which is just about the only place in the world they still can. We're their cash cow! They're not going to give that up without a huge fight!
I'll stop there....you get my point. While ObamaCare has not proven to be the cure-all many had hoped for, the Republican's BIG LIE II will be a giant step BACKWARDS. The only thing it will do is remove $800,000,000,000 from the Treasury's debt obligation that they can then give (mostly) to the wealthy in the form of a tax cut. (That's really what this is all about.)
Wise up friends. Say NO to this slight of hand.