Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why do Americans want Health Care to Fail?

An Englishman was recently heard asking some American visitors: “Why do you Americans want healthcare to fail?”

Such a question can only be asked by a sober outsider, because American society is in the grips of a frenzy, as if drug-induced orgy of piling on Obamacare.

It began with ridiculing the technical difficulties experienced during Obamacare’s roll-out. The website didn’t work (very well). This attack is not lethal. Everyone has had a good time with this issue, including Jon Stewart and Saturday Night Live. The White House can parry this attack, explaining that the technical problems will soon be solved, and that they have nothing to do with the substance of Obamacare.

Let me also remind you that the initial implementation of Bush’s drug plan in 2003 was an even greater fiasco, even though it was piggy-backing on an already existing bureaucracy - Medicare.

But now a second issue is spreading like wildfire. And the attack on Obamacare is no longer just the purview of Fox News and of crypto-fascists like Charles Krauthammer and Rush Limbaugh. Now, “mainstream” outlets such as NBC and even respected people like Charlie Rose are piling on.

The allegation is that millions of Americans are being disenrolled from their health insurance, forced to go without health insurance, and will soon DIE.

Our blog receives comments such as the following (always bravely signed “anonymous”):

NBC News: "President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting...cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare... and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years." OBAMA LIED, PEOPLE DIED”

“NBC ( a notoriously liberal organization) is telling me that MILLIONS will have their insurance cancelled after Obama LIED to them and told them they would be able to keep it. Now some will DIE because they can’t afford the increased premiums.”

We are back to Sarah Palin’s “death panels”!

But here are some facts:

1. There are about 12 million people with individual health plans (5% of the total). Some of these people are getting “cancellation” notices from their insurance company.

2. These are primarily  people  who have Junk Insurance. Their policies have very high premiums, deductibles and co-payments, lifetime maximums, exclusion of many major ailments, etc. These policies are in violation of the new Affordable Care Act.

3. Instead of their useless junk policies, most of these people are offered far superior AND OFTEN CHEAPER policies that comply with the ACA’s standards. This is called upgrading. Anyone making under $96,000 for a family of four qualifies for the federal subsidy!

4. Initially, even these individual junk policies were “grand fathered” into the ACA, so as to allow any fool who wished to stick with his bad old policy to do so. The only stipulation was that individual junk policies which were altered after a certain date would NOT be grand fathered in. Then the insurance companies made what they call “business decisions.” At renewal time (typically once a year), many policy holders’ premiums were raised, their coverages were reduced, etc. These policies could no longer be grand fathered into the ACA. It became permissible to cancel such policies (although the customers have been offered the option to upgrade).

5. Did the President lie? He did not. The intent was to grand father into Obamacare all previous existing individual plans, even garbage plans. The administration bent over backwards to make the statement “no one will be dropped” true. Even those whose policies were tampered with by the insurance companies after the deadline got a year’s grace period.

6. Obama made a mistake: He counted on the insurance companies’ cooperation, not on them  undermining Obamacare. He should have anticipated that insurance companies would change the terms of some of their policies. He should have said, months ago: If you have junk insurance, which protects you against practically nothing, and the terms of your policy have been tampered with by your insurance company recently, you have to make a choice: (1) Get a new plan that complies with Obamacare, which in most cases will be cheaper and will provide far better coverage, or: (2) get rid of your junk plan, save money, pay the minor penalty, and wait until you get sick to get health insurance.

7. NBC and other media report, irresponsibly, that up to 2 million people are getting screwed. This is false. Most of these people will in fact be upgraded to better health plans. What’s being canceled is some of the junk insurance. So why do the media report only the trouble with Obamacare?

Conservatives realize, of course, that if Obamacare succeeds, this will be the biggest nail in their coffin.

As to the media that are supposed to support the president, I suppose they fear that if they report positively about Obamacare, they’ll be viewed as biased.

Meanwhile, the media-induced lunacy spreads. Thousands of comments made on various websites are almost unanimous in their vitriolic denunciation of the ACA and of the President, while at the same time displaying appalling ignorance and illiteracy.

Apparently, America wants health care to fail. Republicans don’t wish to improve health care. They oppose ANY universal/mandated health care system, something which exists in EVERY other advanced country. Check out Canada, Australia, Japan, China, Germany, Scandinavia, the UK, France, most of the rest of Europe and much of Asia. Dozens of countries define health care constitutionally as a RIGHT, not as welfare or as a mere entitlement. They understand that PROFITING from people’s illnesses is fundamentally wrong. As long as the American health care system is based on PROFIT, it will remain inferior to that of other countries: Costlier, and keeping people less healthy.

Is America hellbent on remaining the last bastion of feudalism in the Western world? leave comment here

© Tom Kando