An architect of the federal healthcare law said last year that a “lack of transparency” and the “stupidity of the American voter” helped Congress approve ObamaCare.
He suggested that many lawmakers and voters didn’t know what was in the law or how its financing worked, and that this helped it win approval.
Politicians, particularly those of the Democratic persuasion, love to throw around statistics about how many additional people have healthcare coverage without ever talking about the cost of such coverage, or whether it actually translates into actual access in the real world.
While a greater number of Americans having health insurance is a good thing when it comes to protecting against unexpected catastrophic events or extended hospital stays, it doesn’t tell you anything about two very important variables: 1) How much does it cost? 2) What kind of access does it provide? As usual, the devil is in the details.
We’ve all seen headlines about higher monthly premiums, but that’s just the tip of iceberg. Once you’ve paid your premium, you’re far from off the hook. Another one-two punch of deductibles, copays and out of pocket maximums appear which can collectively run into the thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars for families.
Meanwhile, it appears insurance companies may have recognized the politically toxic nature of higher premiums, so their focus has turned to deductibles as the most efficient way to suck more money from the public for no comparable increase in service.
As the Daily Caller reported earlier this month:
The Affordable Care Act hasn’t just caused premiums to skyrocket across the country, out-of-pocket costs are also on the rise.
According to Freedom Partners, an Arlington, Va.-based pro free-market non-profit, 41 states are facing higher deductibles in 2016 – 17 of which saw a double-digit hike.
The states that saw the biggest spikes were Mississippi (39 percent), Washington (31 percent), South Carolina (26 percent), Louisiana (24 percent), Florida (23 percent), Minnesota and Vermont (22 percent), Arizona (21 percent), and North Carolina (20 percent).
The organization used weighted-averages of ACA plan deductibles across the country in to conduct their analysis and created a tool – the 2016 Obamacare Deductible Increase Tracker, which is set to unveiled Thursday morning – allowing users to see how their state measures up.
“Higher Obamacare deductibles increase, by hundreds of dollars, what families must pay out of pocket to access their health insurance,” Freedom Partners Senior Policy Adviser Nathan Nascimento said in a statement. “Instead of reducing costs, Obamacare regulations and mandates continue to drive up these costs and make quality care less accessible for hardworking families.”
No wonder so many people, including myself, criticized Obamacare from the start as a crony piece of legislation written by insurance companies to benefit insurance companies. In return for this betrayal, the Obama administration is able to tout the increasingly meaningless metric, “increased coverage,” while ignoring serious issues of cost and access.
On a related note, I read a fascinating article this morning in the Boston Globe, titled: Even with Insurance, Mass. Residents Often Can’t Afford Care. Here are a few excerpts:
Nearly all Massachusetts adults have health insurance, but being insured is no guarantee patients can afford health care or even find someone to provide it, according to a survey released Wednesday.
Despite the state’s landmark health care overhaul, the report found, cost and access remain problems for a significant share of residents.
The 2006 law, which became the model for the federal Affordable Care Act, quickly succeeded at its main goal: ensuring coverage for nearly all residents. But the survey by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation shows access remains a concern, especially for those with low incomes or health problems.
More than one-third of adults younger than 65 reported going without needed health care despite having insurance. Nearly half had trouble getting access to a health-care professional. One-fifth struggled to pay family medical bills or medical debts from previous years.
Those out-of-pocket costs represent “a new health care agenda,” said Drew Altman, president and chief executive officer of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit focusing on national health issues. “It’s not just accessing care, but assuring that people can afford the care they now have access to.
The architects of the law deliberately focused on coverage rather than costs, in order to get it passed, she said. In 2012, the state adopted a sweeping law intended to control costs, but Shelto said the law hasn’t yet had much effect.
Sound familiar? This is exactly what the Obama administration did.
“It’s going to take more time,” she said. “The issues around affordability are much more complex than access and coverage.”
The telephone survey, conducted Sept. 8 to Nov. 8 by the Urban Institute, questioned a random sample of 2,014 people ages 19 to 64. Nearly 96 percent said they had health insurance at that time, up from 86 percent in 2006 and better than the 2015 national rate of 87 percent.
Just over 37 percent of adults who were insured the full year reported going without needed health care — including doctor’s visits, tests, screenings, medications, and dental care. Among people with low incomes, more than 50 percent reported unmet health care needs. In a question asked for the first time, the survey found that a quarter of adults do not have dental insurance.
43 percent said that in 2015, health care costs had caused problems for them and their families, including 19 percent who went without needed care as a result.
“If you have low income, it’s harder to find providers who accept your type of coverage,” Shelto said. “If you have a chronic condition, the array of services you need are much more complex and numerous.” Additionally, low-income people are more likely to have difficulties finding child care and transportation.
The survey also pointed to problems accessing care. Among adults who had insurance for the entire previous year, 47 percent said they’d had trouble getting in to see a health care professional, because they could not find a provider who accepted their insurance or was accepting new patients, or because they couldn’t get an appointment as soon as needed. This problem has worsened over time.
Access aside, the combined financial burdens of premiums, deductibles, copays and out of pocket maximums are real and will continue to devastate the balance sheets of the American public.
This issue is likely to come into increased focus in the coming years, and I’m of the belief that the U.S. healthcare system as we know it is likely to collapse within the next decade.
The sucker American public can only be milked so long.