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Obamacare and the Coming (Not Again?) Wealth Transfer

By On

It is called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (short form: “Obamacare”). As with most laws nowadays, you can be sure that the effect of the law will be the polar opposite of the language in the legislation’s title. In this case Obamacare will be neither protective nor affordable.

Predictably, the cruel joke is on the American public who, for the most part, has swallowed the hype and thinks Obamacare will work. As long as our current medical industry is dishing out the care, medical insurance of the type required by the law will be next to useless against the obscene costs. But by then, medical insurers will be raking in billions in insurance premiums from the nearly 50 million now uninsured, many of whom are poor or nearly poor. It won’t matter whether the money is wrenched from their pockets or the coffers of the U.S. Treasury in the form of subsidies. The ultimate effect will be an enormous Obama-initiated transfer of wealth from these citizens [and from the government in the way of subsidies] to the grotesquely bloated medical care industry. It will amount to unarmed robbery of the public, but nobody in the health care industry will go to jail.

The salt in the wound is that insurance premiums will continue to skyrocket to pay for ballooning medical costs that have no justification in reality. These costs are yet another factor over which Obamacare will have no effect. An extensive article that appeared recently in Time Magazine tells the horrific story of medical charges. The piece, written by Steven Brill is entitled “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us”. In the article, Brill takes apart actual hospital bills with the fury of a wild dog on a carcass, and exposes the insanity behind the often incomprehensible charges.

Brill’s partial assessment: “Unless you are protected by Medicare, the health care market is not a market at all. It’s a crapshoot. People fare differently according to circumstances they can neither control nor predict. They may have no insurance. They may have insurance, but their employer chooses their insurance plan and it may have a payout limit or not cover a drug or treatment they need. They may or may not be old enough to be on Medicare or, given the different standards of the 50 states, be poor enough to be on Medicaid. If they’re not protected by Medicare or they’re protected only partly by private insurance with high co-pays, they have little visibility into pricing, let alone control of it. They have little choice of hospitals or the services they are billed for, even if they somehow know the prices before they get billed for the services. They have no idea what their bills mean, and those who maintain the chargemasters [every hospital has its own internal price list called a “chargemaster”] couldn’t explain them if they wanted to.”

He goes on. “How much of the bills they end up paying may depend on the generosity of the hospital or on whether they happen to get the help of a billing advocate. They have no choice of the drugs that they have to buy or the lab tests or CT scans that they have to get, and they would not know what to do if they did have a choice. They are powerless buyers in a seller’s market where the only sure thing is the profit of the sellers.”

Obamacare will not cure this. There will be no single payer system to stand up to this pricing farce. Obama already negotiated with himself in his head and turned his “health” bill over to the insurance companies. It is corporate welfare at its finest. This, then, is the double whammy: unaffordable mandatory insurance coupled with unspeakably high medical costs.

According to another article, (Obmacare: Devils in the Details) on the website of Paul Craig Roberts of the Institute for Political Economy, “… [T]he cost of using the mandated policies will be prohibitive because of the large deductibles and co-pays. Many Americans will find themselves not only with a policy they can’t afford, but also with one they cannot afford to use. Those who cannot afford the insurance, even with a subsidy, will be faced with a costly penalty, and in many cases, this, too, will be difficult, if not impossible, to pay. As each year’s subsidy is based on last year’s income, there will be a substantial year-end tax liability for those who must repay the subsidy in whole or part because their income increased during the year. The stress alone from such a regressive scheme is, without a doubt, not conducive to good health and well-being.”
Roberts predicts, “Obama will rue the day that his name was put on this special interest legislation, and most Americans, once they realize what has been done to them, will be angry that special interests again prevailed over the health of the nation.”

I urge you to read both articles at the links above. Send copies to members of your family and, especially, provide them to your children or grandchildren, upon whom the burden of this travesty will fall. This horrendous legislation will affect every one of us in some way, shape or form. Mostly, it will bring terrible costs and confusion to those who can least afford it. It is a rip-off destined to fatten the health insurance companies, a fact most of the legislators knew the moment it was passed. But they held their noses lest the stench overwhelm them.

About Dick Conoboy

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Member since Jan 26, 2008

Dick Conoboy is a recovering civilian federal worker and military officer who was offered and accepted an all-expense paid, one year trip to Vietnam in 1968. He is a former Army [...]

Comments by Readers

Bill Black

Mar 07, 2013

  I went to Olympia for the introduction of HB 1085 on February 1st. 25 people testified….24 in support, and 1 opposed. Very compelling testimony from physicians, business people and ordinary people.
  Dial up Health Care For All Washington for a look at where we need to go.
  Leeches and blood letting had their day…..hoping to be able to say the same someday in regards to our current evil system of health care in this country.
 
http://www.healthcareforallwa.org

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Dick Conoboy

Mar 08, 2013

Thanks.  I had not been following the particular efforts here in the state.  Will take a look at the HB.

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Alex McLean

Mar 16, 2013

Thanks for posting this.

I have scanned through the article, as it keeps gumming up the social sites, and must confess that my computer-age attention span and reluctance to read electronic book-form has handicapped my ability to get through all 20+ pages of it.

I don’t have read every page, however, since all of the gut instincts I have (“gut instincts” are NOT covered by Obamacare) tell me the story rings true. I hope the author, Steven Brill, wins the Pulitzer for this important effort.

It is likely that I am treading on familiar ground, covered in the article, but it seems to me the crux of this conundrum comes from the inordinate lobbying power—from the medical industry, insurance companies, big pharma, etc.—which leveraged this absurdity upon the American public. Obama may have wanted a good bill. Citizens certainly hoped for one. Congress may have been energized enough to tackle the challenge. But, due to the influence and power of these massive financial interests, we got reamed.

It is interesting to me that Republicans, who loathe the bill for forcing a Health Care “System” upon America, never once direct their attacks toward the insurance companies, hospitals, or big pharma which have made the Affordable Care Act such an obdurate farce. If the true grist and corruption of the special interests—the corporate powers that Republicans fawn over and bow to—were directly addressed, then they would be attacking “costs” of this bill from a consumer perspective or, at least, targeting the freakish over-charging that this Act and these corporate players allow and condone. They don’t do this, however, and it makes me ponder how much worse it would be if they were to rewrite this legislation.

As the root of the problems come from corporate greed, and since this corporate source is THE power behind this legislation, it will likely be up to citizens to march and petition in front of office towers and factories rather than wasting a minute of time in Washington DC. As disorganized and dumb as much of the “we are the 99-percent!” rallies were, this tactic, combined with an appeal that spreads across (nearly) every spectrum of our society, would likely instill enough shame amongst the shameless to inflict some change.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/03/15/why-an-mri-costs-1080-in-america-and-280-in-france/?tid=pm_pop

This article, also, explains how this whole nation is being crippled financially as we allow corporate interests to extort money from us while holding our physical health and well-being hostage.

I don’t follow this sort of thing too carefully.

So here is a question for the cyber-trust:

Is the current debate over a merger between Peace Health and Catholic Health Initiatives going to help, or exacerbate, our local rendition of this industrial/medical complex?
http://bbjtoday.com/blog/peacehealth-plans-merger-with-catholic-health-initiatives/17499

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Dick Conoboy

Apr 05, 2013

Alex,

Thank you for your well-considered reply that I did not read until today since I was travelling recently.  Of course, we all know now the result of the attempt of Peace Health/Catholic Health to join forces. I do not see that the current decision is anything resembling a final decision on such a merger.  The drumbeat for consolidation of these church-related entities across the nation has not ceased.

I would however change industrial/medical complex to faith-based/medical complex.  That any particular religious entity be essentially the sole provider of medical services in an area is unacceptable to me.

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