We are told that one of the most “popular” features of the president’s signature “ObamaTax” health insurance law is one that prevents health insurance companies from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.
We are told that the ObamaTax will protect Americans with pre-existing conditions from nasty big health insurers, while Republicans and conservatives shrug their shoulders in “let them eat cake” fashion. Forget about the fact that the premise of the left’s presentation is totally false, as it often is, since big health insurers and hospitals are loving ObamaTax because it will channel federal funds right to their doorsteps.
The truth is that, while a definite problem has prevailed for those with pre-existing medical conditions who have attempted to obtain health insurance coverage, that problem is small and manageable and can be adequately addressed with common-sense free market solutions. Most people, regardless of political ideology, want all Americans to be able to purchase health insurance coverage and gain access to care. The difference is not in the desire but in the policies that will get the job done. Neither Republicans nor Democrats have been successful in this endeavor to date.
With ObamaTax, the left has chosen a big government policy that will offer a very brief period of health care access to individuals with pre-existing conditions, followed by little or no access to care as Americans cope with long lines to see doctors. They will soon face an Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a group of unelected government bureaucrats, who, as their name says, will be more concerned with payment than health care.
The “pre-existing condition” feature of ObamaTax is, indeed, a hoax, because it assumes that, once the law is fully implemented, those with pre-existing conditions will still be able to schedule an appointment with their doctors and specialists within a reasonable period of time. The law assumes this despite the fact that, at full implementation, all the currently uninsured will be added to the rolls as patients to the health care system.
Consider that a recent survey, released by the Doctor Patient Medical Association, found that 83% of American physicians have considered leaving their practices over President Obama’s health care reform law, and 72% say the individual insurance mandate will not result in improved access to care. In addition, 74% of the physicians surveyed say they will stop accepting Medicare patients or leave Medicare panels completely, while 49% indicate they will stop accepting Medicaid patients.
What this means is that the number of doctors available–the supply of physicians–will likely decrease as the demand for services increases. Sure, you might be able to see a nurse practitioner for a cold or cough, but the wait to see a specialist for those “pre-existing conditions” will seem like an eternity.
In addition, those with serious pre-existing conditions who require a substantial amount of medical care will need to keep in mind that, once the IPAB is activated, their ability to obtain the access to care they need will be determined by this board of government bureaucrats. To be blunt, the IPAB will decide if it’s worth it for funds to be spent on care for someone who requires much of it yet may never get well, as opposed to someone who is likely to recover and be “useful to society.”
Let’s look at the situation of parents who have a child with special needs. Though supporters of ObamaTax will say that a child with a pre-existing condition is automatically entitled to health insurance coverage, the fact is that, when the law is fully implemented, limitations will be imposed on Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Since the demand for the services of specialists will increase dramatically, gaining access to the supply of care needed will grow difficult.
A more common-sense approach to ensuring that all Americans, even those with pre-existing conditions, get access to the health care they need is to repeal ObamaTax and make several simple changes to our health care system by removing the pre-Obama obstructions.
A relatively easy thing for Congress to do is to extend tax credits, now given to employers who offer health insurance plans to their employees, to individuals who purchase their own health insurance instead. This would open up competition among health insurers for clients and end the current system of employers having to choose health insurance plans for their employees. As it is now, with ObamaTax, many employers are dropping health insurance coverage altogether, forcing individuals into the state “exchanges.”
Second, Congress should expand and strengthen the use of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to put more health care purchases of goods and services in the hands of consumers. The United States should be on a path to personal ownership of health insurance plans–a goal that would eliminate the need to apply for new health insurance coverage when people switch jobs, move, etc. Notice that ObamaTax, or government ownership, is the polar opposite of personal ownership of health insurance.
We have heard it all before, but allowing purchase of health insurance across state lines would open up competition and lead to health insurers seeking out customers, offering the best deals for the best plans. As a result of increased competition, Americans would also likely see new start-up health insurers that would find this business to be worthy of risk.
For doctors to be able to participate in the free market relationship with their patients, tort reform is essential. The costs of malpractice insurance can be a deterrent for many who might otherwise consider a career in medicine.
Finally, we will always need a high-risk pool with government subsidies available for the seriously ill. But, we cannot maintain this system without solid checks on application criteria to ensure that it is not abused.
Members of Congress who pledge to repeal ObamaTax must also pledge to make sure our health care system is not ripe for government takeover again. Yes, everyone, even those with “pre-existing conditions” should be able to obtain health care coverage. What ObamaTax does not guarantee is health care access.