Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Keep Your Health Plan? Not Likely, Pres. Obama

The question was posed by a caller to my fave radio talk show: Why does Obama want everyone to be part of a massive national health care plan?

The query came as the result of the host's explanation of the dishonesty in the way Obama is presenting his complete restructuring of health insurance and care in America.

Obama says that no one will be forced to drop his health plan. But 60% of Americans, according to 2008 census data, have coverage provided by an employer. Under Obama's proposal, employers who want to continue to provide it can--costing them typically several thousand dollars per year per employee. That's why health care is considered such a great perk.

On the other hand, if they choose NOT to insure their employees, employers with annual payrolls of more than $400,000 pay a "penalty" of 8% of wages to the government under the House plan, or just $750 per worker under the Senate plan. What would an employer rather do--pay several thousand for a health package, or a fee of just $750?

Businesses who now offer their employees health care would surely dump the hassling with insurance carriers, and substantially lower their expenses by ending the insurance perk, funneling their workers into the government plan (perhaps kicking and screaming).

And this is exactly what Pres. Obama wants. In fact he needs those millions of formerly employer-covered workers to enter his vast national plan to lower costs! The larger the pool, the wider the risk is spread, the less the whole enterprise costs. And productive employees--presumably the most healthy among us--are the ones footing the bill for the disabled and those with pre-existing conditions that Obama wants taxpayers to cover. Corralling as many healthy wage-earners as possible into the system expands its base, getting the government bigger discounts from its providers of everything from medicines to nursing.

And when independent, for-profit insurers fold, as they eventually must when they can't survive against taxpayer-subsidized competitors, then the government can set prices just the way it wants to. After all, Medicare now sets prices for all sorts of services and procedures. Are they fair? You'd have to ask health care providers. I've heard that docs who still accept Medicare have to make up for losses by charging higher fees to others. One thing I do know, however, is that the huge bureaucracy created by Medicare is just a smidgen of the paperwork and frustration that would face everyone if the government took over health services for every citizen across the country.

My point is that Pres. Obama's mantra that his plan keeps "government out of health care decisions, giving you the option to keep your insurance if you're happy with it," is intentionally sneaky and wrong. With the underlying philosophy that government should not only grow, but federalize functions that have always been local and personal (education, health care), Obama does not want you to "keep your insurance if you're happy with it," and is doing everything possible to force employers who offer insurance to their workers to shift them to his national plan.

If you've got your insurance through work, and suddenly, your boss says it's not available due to government penalties or Obamacare forcing the provider out of business--what happens to your "option to keep your insurance"? And so everyone quietly enters the nationalized network, or pays extravagantly for "concierge care" from the maverick docs who buck the system.

Once nationalized programs are in place, what will young collegians do: choose careers in medicine, where their entrepreneurial zeal will be squelched by set government limits, or head into business? Ahh, but then there's that nifty "surcharge" successful go-getters will pay, as high as an extra 5.4% beyond the elevated taxes on the horizon.

Margaritaville doesn't sound so bad. Given the agenda of present leadership to federally provide everything we need, we won't have to wait too long for the government to replace our lost shaker of salt.


  1. Medicare and Medicaid set prices that don't cover expenses. The difference is made up by the rest of us. There won't be a rest of us if Obama gets his way. Who's going to make up the difference then? I think we all know the answer to that one.

  2. "Once nationalized programs are in place, what will young collegians do: choose careers in medicine, where their entrepreneurial zeal will be squelched by set government limits, or head into business? Ahh, but then there's that nifty "surcharge" successful go-getters will pay, as high as an extra 5.4% beyond the elevated taxes on the horizon."

    Well, I suspect by then, we will have a Czar for Determining Who Goes Into What Profession - no choice to make!

  3. Childs: Yes, the larger picture is the underlying belief that all people are and should be kept equal--share the wealth, level the playing field, and ignore differences in intelligence, ambition and hard work. That's why you tax the wealthy: to discourage the pursuit of wealth and make one homogenous class of people.

    George: It's scary, all right. The lengths Chinese and Japanese parents and kids go to in order to win a coveted chance for a higher rung on the ladder may be an indicator of where we're headed...

  4. I have browsed and read extensively the HR-3200 'Healthcare Bill'. Several major issues strike and astound me immediately. They are: (1) that this bill creates a monumental, unmanageable, monstrous administrative nightmare with its multiple organizational staffs and requirements, (2) the "Commissioner" throughout the bill is charged with issuing requirements, standards and practices for the staffs at his own discretion without limits, (3) seemingly unending and unlimited number of task units, and (4) no way can this bill be paid for in less than umpteen trillions of dollars and thousands or millions of additional federal employees.

    I read the 'pdf' version of the bill. 'PDF' files have the feature of 'find'. To get a quick sense of the complication of 'HR-3200', search and read the surrounding text for the following words: Commissioner, exchange, administration, governance, division, appoint, establish, quality health benefits, ombudsman, community, departments, staff, units, secretary, office, training, title, subtitle, etc. These will support my contention that the bill is a nightmare.

    The criteria for the bill states that it builds on the current healthcare system, but the bill replaces, not builds on, the current system. Can you visualize what the bill would foster when a person such as one of the current cast of czars becomes the "Commissioner"? Ghastly!

  5. Obamacare vs. Harry's Evil Mongers

    Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Ca.), the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, yesterday released a Staff Report on the enormous fraud and waste in the Medicare system.

    The report points out that H.R. 3200, the Democrats’ government-run health care bill that has been reported out of three jurisdictional committees, does not address the systemic failures that facilitate the fraud but replicates these same faulty mechanisms for fraud and waste.

    From the report:

    “According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), improper payments in the Medicare Fee-for-Service (FSS) and Medicare Advantage programs were estimated to be $17.2 billion for fiscal year 2008,” the report said. “GAO estimates that as much as 10% of overall health care spending is lost to fraud. More troubling, the ‘America’s Affordable Health Choices Act’ will apply the same ineffective anti-fraud and abuse protections to the public insurance plan that the Medicare program uses, leaving the door open to the same types of waste and fraud as those currently plaguing Medicare.”

    The GAO estimate of “10% of overall health care spending” lost to fraud is a staggering number. According to the report, overall health care spending in the United States in 2007 was $2.2 trillion. (One third of that was government health care spending.) If 10% of overall health care spending is lost to fraud each year, that’s a whopping $220 billion lost in 2007. The FBI estimates are higher, totaling the funds lost to medical fraud each year as high as $280 billion.

    “Despite some small proposed tweaks, the public system in H.R. 3200 takes the same weak and ineffective approach to reducing fraud as the Medicare model...”
    On top of that are the outrageous administration costs of
    an Army of Federal Paper Pushers and Penny Pinchers.

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