ObamaCare: Unhealthy for you, your wallet and your country

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September 10, 2009

11:40 PM

With the healthcare debate raging, I am becoming more and more concerned about the Obama administration’s plan for bringing socialized medicine to the United States. There is a reason people are flocking to public meetings around the country to voice their opposition to ObamaCare. Once the plan is passed, the United States may never be able to untangle the mess it creates.

Among the biggest concerns with ObamaCare is the administration’s constant misrepresentation of data to justify their crusade. They cite census data that claims 47 million Americans are without health insurance. This figure, which accounts for 15 percent of the population, would be a staggering number if it were not so misleading.

The administration neglects to mention the following figures, also taken from the census data. Of those 47 million, 21 percent, or 9.9 million, are not U.S. citizens. Additionally 9.4 million earn over $75,000 and 8 million are young adults between age 18 and 24, many of whom are choosing to forego coverage. It is estimated that half of the uninsured are uninsured voluntarily. The 47 million, therefore, is really more like 23 million — under eight percent of the population — which is below the 9.7 percent unemployment rate.
So what will the United States be like under ObamaCare? For argument’s sake, assume that ObamaCare eventually works much like Canada’s public option. Now assume that you hurt your knee playing soccer in the Sunken Garden. Under our current system, you can get in to see a specialist in about three to four weeks. Under ObamaCare, it would generally take about eight weeks to see a specialist. Now, what if your specialist says that you need surgery?

Under our current system, you can generally see an orthopedic surgeon in two to three weeks. Under ObamaCare, the wait to see the surgeon would average nine weeks or more. Total wait now: five to seven weeks. Total wait under ObamaCare: 17-plus weeks.

The economic impact of ObamaCare will also reach far beyond the massive deficits that current large, government-run entitlement programs invariably run up. Early estimates project more than 65 percent of the privately insured will cancel or lose their existing coverage. These losses will cause hundreds of companies, large and small, to cut back or close entirely. Possibly hundreds of thousands of private sector jobs in insurance companies and related businesses will be lost. Jobs will be created to run the bureaucratic health care monster, but large movements of jobs from the private sector to government control never have been constructive for any free market economy.

Insurance companies and related businesses will not be the only ones hurt by the plan; both patients and doctors will suffer. Estimates indicate that doctors’ incomes will drop 20 percent as compensation is cut and new mandates increase the cost of practicing — bad news for those who toil in the Integrated Science Center as pre-meds. The dramatic drop in income will cause doctors to consolidate into larger practice, and to squeeze more patients into already overbooked schedules. Quality of care and doctor-patient interaction will inevitably suffer, just as it has in Canada. Ultimately, fewer of the best and brightest will choose medicine as a career due to decreased monetary incentives and a desire to avoid the restrictive and frustrating morass of a government-controlled environment.

America should first focus on fixing the system we have before tossing a colossal and expensive government-run program on top. We should hold insurance companies accountable for how they do business and remove state and federal barriers, thus encouraging more private competition. Much like car insurance, a truly competitive free market will bring prices down. Private insurance pays doctors more than Medicare and Medicaid while actually making a profit.

We should reform Medicare and Medicaid to offer performance-based pay for doctors and streamline the system by trimming the fat of the bureaucracy. Lastly, baseless lawsuits and forced settlements are a huge factor in driving up healthcare costs. It is time for the hundreds of lawyers already in Congress to pay some attention to tort reform.

There is a reason that the United States is the best place on Earth to receive treatment for cancer, neurological disorders and other medical conditions. Our free-market system — while far from perfect — encourages research and innovation that you do not find in socialized systems. A plan that steps in and removes doctors’ incentive for excellence in their field will ruin this, as it already has in the socialized systems of other countries. A plan like that is not good for you or for United States.

E-mail John Michael King at [email protected]

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