Republicans touting the Obamacare replacement they’ve lusted after for years are absolutely right about this: Americans are going to have more options when it comes to health care.
But unless you’re among the very rich, those options are all bad. And if you’re older or poorer in America, well, maybe you’d better sit down.
The short version? You’re pretty much either going to die sick or poor.
The long version? Republicans and President Trump have simultaneously discovered the reason Obamacare is such a convoluted mess is because the American health care system is a convoluted mess.
Given what Republicans in the House have proposed so far, the only thing clear is that their plan does not repeal Obamacare, it just makes it worse. Pick your favorite tortured metaphor, or a few of them, and go.
Where Obamacare used a “stick” to get everyone to get health insurance, the Republican’s American Health Care Act supposedly offers a carrot. The thing is, the paltry and easily avoided Obamacare penalty for not getting insurance was more of a velvet lash. And the refundable tax break the Republican plan offers is more of a moldy rutabaga.
When you start looking under hood of the “sweet deal” offered by a couple hundred GOP used health-care salesmen, you see what the problems are.
No more penalty for avoiding insurance? That’s sawdust in the transmission of this lemon. Insurance companies can charge a healthy person in their 50s five times as much for the same policy sold to someone in their 20s. Five times. And nobody knows what they’re going to be charging, but unless you’re suffering memory loss, you can rest assured it’s going to be more. Lots more. The sky’s the limit, and insurance companies have been reaching for the stars for decades now.
Nobody knows how increasingly worthless Trumpcare policies will be than are Obamacare policies. Unless you or your employer have wanted to shell out massive monthly premiums, you pay the first several thousand dollars in health care these days — above what your premiums cost.
They used to call that crap “catastrophic” health insurance. Now they call it the “Silver Plan.”
The problem with Trumpcare is the same problem with Obamacare: neither plan addresses the underlying issues that doom these ideas to failure.
Health care simply costs too much in the United States. We, through our insurance companies and increasingly through our tax dollars and personal bank accounts, pay too much for drugs. We pay too much for hospitalization. Hospitals pay too much for labor and supplies. They have to give away too much health care to indigents. We pay too much for doctors. They pay too much for med school and malpractice insurance and accounting services to comply with red tape. These are all for-profit people and companies, and most of them are for plenty of profit.
Neither Obamacare nor the mess House Republicans are now pitching do anything to force or allow anyone involved in the system to pay less or charge less.
The magical unicorn notion that allowing insurance companies to “sell across state lines” will drive down costs is bogus fantasy. So is the lark that insurance for young people will be so cheap that millions will want it, and that will bring down the costs of all insurance.
This is all a bad case of been there, done that.
We charge too much. We pay too much. We’re too sick. And the people who often use the most and costliest health care — poor and elderly people — pay the least when they pay through Medicare and Medicaid. Large businesses get considerably discounted rates for group insurance, and insurance companies make it up by charging more to those who have to go it alone.
You cannot make any of these numbers work with any possible plan unless you control costs. And we’re not willing to do that.
The only way out of this mess is through some kind of universal system. Everybody’s covered. Everybody pays. There’s no other choice because nothing else can work.
But a country that can’t even find a way to keep from ripping off people who need EpiPens to keep from dying don’t have a prayer for finding a single-payer plan they can agree to.
No, this will come full circle several times before we finally do the right thing. The logical thing. The only thing.
Like it or not, Hillary Clinton pointed all this out back in 1993 and got laughed out of the Capitol.
Not so funny now, is it?
Tout this pig’s ear all they want, it’s not going to go anywhere when insurance companies, old people, states, liberals, doctors, hospitals, conservatives, drug companies, moderates and middle-class patients get a load of the details behind this clunker.
Until we move toward universal care, Obamacare is the best we can hope for. Congress should work together to fix it as best they can. Who cares what they call it when they’re done?
What House Republicans are proposing right now, however, only cures the diseased American health care system by killing off the patient.