Editor’s note: It’s hard to think of a topic that drives more comments from The Daily Signal’s audience than the fate of Obamacare. With a Senate vote possible this week on some sort of health care reform, here’s a roundup of your views. Write us at [email protected] about our news and commentary.—Ken McIntyre
Dear Daily Signal: Forgive me, but isn’t all of this just more political nonsense and posturing? Regarding Rachel del Guidice’s report, “Conservatives Look for Lower Premiums in Senate’s Revised Health Care Bill,” it is a known fact, period, that free markets bring costs down. Government, no such thing.
Members of Congress are having to rework this thing over and over to get the premiums down, because the crap that they do to control the market makes premiums increase. Isn’t that the way government intervention works?
I am all for assisting those who are less fortunate. Pretty much all of us are. So put that in a health care bill.
Subsidizing (using our tax money for) health care for worthy Americans is fine by me. Even the idea of not allowing companies to dismiss you for pre-existing conditions—not sure about all that, but it seems fair.
After that, get out of the health care business, pull out the government barriers and typical regulations on business. It will still be a mess, just a smaller one.—Brian Rood
Rachel del Guidice reports that Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, “emphasized that the major goal is to drive down skyrocketing health insurance premiums under Obamacare.”
And that summarizes the problem. To accomplish that, the Senate’s proposed health care bill adds money, adds benefits, and generally has government take a bigger role.
The “major goal” should not be to lower premiums, increase coverage, or anything except getting the federal government out of the health care business. If states want to do it, go for it. But Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are not the business of the federal government. Those programs create dependencies that keep us all “peaceful on the plantation.”—Steffan Callosa
— The Daily Signal (@DailySignal) July 16, 2017
In September, my wife and I will be moving onto Medicare. Our monthly premiums will be about half of what we pay now. We are healthy people who have been paying $20,000 per year for health insurance.
Let’s be real. Since Obamacare was implemented we were paying for nothing less than catastrophic coverage. With the deductible over $6,000, the plan is obviously not typical insurance. It is catastrophic care.
Our plan is loaded with coverage for events we will never use, and aren’t even relevant to us at our age. What I wonder is where do I go to get back all the excess money I’ve paid since Obamacare was thrust upon us?
It has negatively affected us in many ways. They knew Obamacare was a canard. It was never going to save money for me or secure better health care. This is another glaring example of why you don’t want bigger, unconstitutional government in your life.—Stephen Tabeling
I have the utmost confidence that whatever version, with whatever name, is ultimately pushed through, it in no way will have any resemblance to the tough talk of total repeal, which was promised but was never going to be delivered. If precedent is an indicator, the usual end result of anything the government gets its claws into is increased cost, decreased efficiency, and fewer options, rife with unchecked fraud.—Bill James
— Ken McIntyre (@KenMac55) July 18, 2017
Obamacare Repeal as the Bottom Line
Dear Daily Signal: Regarding Jarrett Stepman’s commentary, unless you are blinded by the maniacal dogma from the left, it’s hard to deny what a total train wreck Obamacare has been for the average American (“7 Years of Promising Obamacare Repeal Leaves Republicans Just 1 Option“).
Perhaps a very small percentage of people actually are better off with it, but why do they dictate how health insurance is designed at the expense of everyone else? This is absurd.
And equally absurd is the Republican cowardice on getting rid of this mess, and allowing the Democrats to cover them with all the horrible lies about Medicaid cuts and other equally ruinous claims. After eight years of having to endure President Obama and his condescending attitude toward Middle America, the Republicans are still doing nothing to fight him and his ugly work.
This is worse than shameful. What is the point in voting for your senator or congressman? You might as well just vote for goat turds like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.—Brad Gillepsie
I am far from a socialist, but in the present situation perhaps single payer health care should be looked at. It’s a shame, but the huge entitlement in Obamacare makes it almost impossible to fix.—Ray Styles
Obamacare is failing. People who buy insurance on their own and off the exchanges have been hit with incredible increases in premiums.
The pre-Obamacare premium for a family of four was $507 per month with a $10,000 annual deductible. Today, the premium is $2,032 per month with $14,300 deductible and we are healthy. It is not sustainable in its current form and the proposed bills from Congress have not addressed these issues.
All types of insurance are risk-based. A low risk equates to a low premium, higher risk equates to a high premium. Mandating coverage requirements that are inflexible (the one-size-fits-all approach) simply do not work. People need to be able to purchase the coverage that meets their needs.
Possible solutions: Allow insurance to be sold across state lines; eliminate in-network and out-network requirements (your having insurance means all medical doctors and hospitals accept it); create a high deductible plan ($10,000 to $15,000 per year) for single people over age 26 with no co-pays at a low premium. This would give this age group coverage for major injuries, but the individual would be personally responsible for all other medical bills until deductible is reached.
Cost likely would be $200 per month or so. Let the government create and subsidize a high-risk pool for people with cancer, heart disease, and other issues, and don’t require private insurance companies to provide coverage to this group.—Steven Trinkaus
You would think that after eight years of an administration that spent most of its time playing politics, Republican members of Congress would at least do what they said they were going to do: Repeal and replace Obamacare.
Fun and games are over. People are being hurt by Obamacare and its escalating costs with nontreatment because people can’t even afford to use the care they’ve paid too much for.
Now that the Republicans have proved they had no intention of repealing Obamacare, it’s President Trump’s turn to reveal to America those who are unwilling to reverse this nightmare. Let’s remember all the Republicans who gave their word and then broke it once the chips were on the line.—Juan L. Bassett
Hear this, Congress: If you voted against or said you would not vote for the repeal of Obamacare, I intend to vote against you in the primary. I will do my best to go against all the RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) in Congress. I am starting to prefer the true conservatives; they are much more principled.—Jim Clooney
“Follow the money.” That is what will tell folks what is really going on with all this delay and inaction from the RINOs.
My bet is that the insurance industry is heavily donating (bribing) the leadership in both houses to obstruct any real solution to the Obamacare debacle. There will be no movement toward repeal as long as the insurance lobby does not see a kickback to them in the form of subsidies or bailouts.
Congress critters are bought and paid for by special interests, not we the people. Way past time to “drain the swamp” and call out the RINOs for what they are, special interest prostitutes beholding to no one except the ones who grease their palms with big bucks.—Jules P. Guidry
— Heritage on the Hill (@HeritageOTH) July 14, 2017
Judging the Senate’s Latest Health Care Proposal
Dear Daily Signal: In response to Robert Moffit’s commentary, we do not need socialized health care in any way, shape, or form—period (“Why the Revised Senate Health Care Bill is a Major Improvement Over the Status Quo”). My nephew’s half-brother has Crohn’s disease. He started getting symptoms when he was 19, and had no health insurance.
Unlike a Medicaid patient, he was seen by a top specialist in Seattle, who gave him the best care available and signed him up to receive experimental treatment—again, not available to Medicaid patients.
Studies have proven that those on Medicaid have worse health care outcomes than the uninsured. Also look at the Department of Veterans Affairs and at Canada.
Some 40 million people live in Canada and it takes months to see a specialist there, even if you are a millionaire. About 18 million people are on VA health care and wait months for surgeries and to see specialists.
The U.S. population is 320 million; how do you think a single-payer system, which is what this will lead to, is going to go work out?—Robert Mulligan, Spokane, Wash.
President Trump signed an executive order repealing the Obamacare mandates and taxes on his first day in office. Why did Congress not do the same? The GOP is a big proponent of choice, so why no choice in health care?
One of the first choices for the consumer should be Obamacare or “Health Choice.” What can the Democrats say about consumers who choose to buy the doctor’s care and insurance of their choice, or to buy Obamacare? If the GOP is correct, then all will move out of Obamacare.
Health care needs to be discussed in a public forum, and a new segment enacted every week. Nice and simple, fit it on a single sheet of paper where no swamp creature can hide.
Does it sound reasonable? Then enact it. Does a previous one need some adjustment? Then amend it.
Obamacare has a certain following and demagoguing it makes the best political advertisements in the world: Here comes Paul Ryan pushing Granny in the wheelchair off the cliff.
Why not just let lovers of the Affordable Care Act make up their own minds on what is best?—Toby Witersteen
Let’s get the government out of health care in general, taking care of the elderly and to others only in national needs such as natural disasters. Let the free market take care of the rest.—Ron Pipich
What has happened to you, Heritage Foundation? Are you now progressive and no more conservative? The Republican Party promised repeal, not Obamacare-lite.—Tina Gallo Wilson
Just repealing the horrendous disaster that is Obamacare is a major step. It will put us on the road away from socialism, always a failed concept, and toward free market capitalism. Competition always works, whether it is business, health care, or the marketplace of employment.—Rich Newhouse
— Deplorable KEVIN (@ACatholicKnight) June 30, 2017
On the Question of Continuous Coverage
Dear Daily Signal: While this seems like a logical solution in Edmund Haislmaier’s commentary, the reason health coverage was offered by region is that premium pricing needed to reflect the cost of health care in that region (“The Senate Should Offer a Range of Options to Encourage Continuous Insurance Coverage“). Clearly, doctor and hospital costs in New York City are very different than in Wheeling, West Virginia.
The best solution would be realized by repealing Obamacare and telling the insurance companies that until a new government program is developed, they are able to set up individual coverage and make it available in the way they think best. At least people in counties and areas with no option for coverage could buy something.
Because the cost of setup is high, the government could guarantee that each program the insurance company sells will have a three-year term minimum. The government then could focus on special areas of need for those who have to have help.—Christopher Moody
The solution is to phase out third-party payment of health care. Just like government-subsidized student loans caused an uncontrolled rise in four-year college tuition, third-party payments cause health care costs to rise. Both are due to the disconnect between the actual consumer and the provider, allowing layers and layers of consultants and middlemen to insert themselves into the supply chain. When the consumer directly pays, costs and bureaucratic overruns are kept in check.—Eileen Machida
For over a decade, my wife and I had a “high” deductible health savings account. We loved it. We had “reasonable” premiums that would help to build up our available cash in the account.
We would pay for all of our annual medical expenses from this account. If we exceeded $4,000 in a year, the insurance company began paying. (Basically, it was “major medical insurance.”)
Our cash reserves would roll over each year. When we had about $10,000 in reserves, the surplus would go into an interest-bearing retirement account. This encouraged us to be cost conscious because it was our money.
We actually saw the cost of all procedures. The insurance company still negotiated prices on our behalf. We paid the first $4,000 with a Visa debit card. The amount would be deducted from our reserves. It paid to be healthy and cost conscious.—Tommy Moorehead
We are now aware that those Obamacare mandates that force insurers to provide coverage for the previously uninsured were put into place for the express purpose of breaking the insurance companies, so that we could be forced into government-controlled and -provided health care. The requirement that insurance companies cover any applicant, regardless of condition or previous coverage, creates an unfunded mandate; it is not insurance. This is third-party health care coverage and nothing else.
Medicaid, high risk pools, charities, and other types of assistance are appropriate for those who will not or cannot purchase insurance, but now we’re talking about emergency services or health care, not insurance.
The system that we had in place before Obamacare was providing better health care than any other system in the world. People who wished to have insurance had the choice of medical cost-sharing (Medishare, Samaritan’s Purse, Christian Brotherhood, etc.), prepaid health plans (Kaiser), or traditional insurance.
The escalation of costs was due to liability issues, government interference, and provider’s greed; those were the issues that needed to be addressed instead of attempting to create a single-payer system.
Our individual and corporate freedoms have become more and more limited as government has taken over banking, investments, retirement options, auto manufacturing, fuel production, farming, housing, energy production and consumption, and now … health care. We have become subjects, rather than citizens, and have sacrificed liberty for an impossible socialist dream.—Bill Tanksley
— The Daily Signal (@DailySignal) July 13, 2017
The Cruz-Lee Amendment to Senate Bill
Dear Daily Signal: Sounds like a fantastic idea to me (“Cruz, Lee Push Amendment to GOP Health Care Bill to Give Insurers More Options“). I neither want, and certainly cannot afford, an Obamacare-compliant plan.
For example, as a 48-year-old male who doesn’t drink or take drugs, why in the world would I pay for maternity coverage or drug rehab coverage?
I simply want a good catastrophic plan, and the rest I’ll budget for and use my health savings account. I certainly don’t need some arrogant D.C. Democrat specifying what I need in my insurance coverage.
Give me the freedom to purchase the insurance policy that matches my needs and my budget—Thomas Luedeke
I know a whole lot of people who lost health insurance because of the ridiculous Obamacare. We were all better off paying the fine, considering we couldn’t even use the ridiculous Obamacare until we met a ridiculous deductible. Obamacare was designed to fail so the Democrats can throw single payer at the American people to control what can or cannot be done for us.
It has nothing to do with hating liberals but everything to do with freedom, which shouldn’t allow government to tell us what is best for us. Use some common sense.—Rebecca Webb Avigliano, Charleston, S.C.
Anyone been to an emergency room lately? If you’re lucky, prepare for an eight-hour stay before you’re released. If you’re fortunate, they’ll allow you in. Ambulances are turned away because of overcrowded rooms.
On July 9, my wife broke her ankle in a Home Depot lot in Chicago, and this was our experience. It was a good neighborhood on the North Side.
This is what the liberal, progressive Democrats have done to us with their mountains of endless, intrusive, destructive laws requiring dumpsters full of paperwork to satisfy programs like HIPAA instead of using the time for care.
Seats filled in waiting rooms, people on gurneys in hallways for hours, waiting for their trip to get an X-ray or other exams, then waiting for the one doctor to make the rounds. In the near future, these doctors, those who are the smartest in our classrooms, will be software engineers because all this b.s. is just not worth it.
The American people continue to tolerate the politicians, bureaucrats, liberal news pundits, and community activists who endlessly sell us the single-payer health system, while often we hear about the VA nightmare.
Government doesn’t run anything efficiently; it wastes over $200 billion a year in fraud, abuse, and overlapping redundancies. We are allowing the destruction of the greatest health care system in the world.
Repeatedly we’re told of the concerns for the 22 million uninsured; that’s a lie, a fake number from liars. How did people manage before Obamacare? For the few, the health care quality of over 320 million people will be affected forever. There’s no turning back from this.—Art Anton
Here’s what we don’t want to acknowledge about health care insurers: No matter what type of plan they offer, they will dictate a price that includes maximum profit and lowest risk. They own the data to be able to do that.
They once again will spend hundreds of millions to not deliver their product. Insurance is the only business sector that can do such an obscenity.
They once again will include small print in the plans, to their benefit. They again will offer plans with maximum limits. They again will cherry-pick by pricing out or denying undesirables (sick people) coverage.
They will form a cartel with providers and pharmaceutical manufacturing to mutually negotiate maximum profits that are spread across all national health care users. They have easy access and power to beneficially negotiate with state insurance commissions.
They are able to buy federal politicians who oppose legislation for a less costly government single-payer system that eliminates middleman insurers. And they threaten to cut off millions of people’s health care if they do not get their way with government regulators.—John Kominitsky
Thank you, Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. But honestly, I believe that something like their amendment should have been in the Senate health care bill from the beginning. In fact, it should have been the “heart and soul” of the bill.
What on Earth were the rest of the Republicans in Congress thinking and waiting for the last eight years? Frankly, they should be embarrassed that Cruz and Lee, at virtually the last minute, had to ride in and save them from disaster.
If I understand the Cruz-Lee amendment correctly, insurers would be free to offer any insurance plan the market wants. That is just doing things the free market way, the American way.
When leftists design a program and bureaucrats make the key decisions, nothing works. But, when the people are free to chose from an open and free market, everyone (except the bureaucrats and the left) prospers.—Mike Briggs
— ???K.J. Pritchard (@KJPritchard4) June 29, 2017
About That CBO Score of the Senate Bill
Dear Daily Signal: Nobody knows these government projections for the cost of health insurance premiums, which Drew Gonshorowski writes about in his commentary, will prove to be accurate. They are only projections by the Congressional Budget Office (“What the CBO Score Means for the Senate Health Care Bill“).
No one in the Congress can be a hero by replacing the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare must be repealed, cleanly repealed. Congress then needs to:
—Eliminate barriers to insurance companies’ competing across state lines.
—Repeal legislation that handcuffs insurance companies by telling them who must be covered.
—Repeal legislation that handcuffs insurance companies by telling them what must be covered.
Let the insurance companies—those who understand what is marketable and where differences between markets exist—offer different packages for mature citizens, for families, for individuals, for everybody to whom they wish to sell packages.
Some citizens will be uninsurable or will be unable to afford insurance because they represent too much risk or their income is insufficient. Let the state and local governments support those within their jurisdictions who need help.
This would be health care support, not insurance but welfare, charity. If this number is 20 million or even more, so be it.
At least we won’t be trying to fit 320 million into one program that hurts as many as it helps, won’t drive up the costs to insure the healthy, and won’t place a burden on the economy by preserving another uncontrollable entitlement program. Repeal and get out of the way.—Ron Bella
In what was termed a free market, I had insurance for $240 a month. After Obamacare, the rate tripled and the deductible went from $2,500 to $6,250. Just go back to pre-Obamacare for most and come up with a solution for pre-existing conditions.—James Bowen, Port Orange, Fla.
We never had a truly free market. What we had was:
Insurance monopolies on states (no competition). Inability to buy insurance across state lines (same reason).
Frivolous lawsuits driving up costs (need tort reform). Plus skyrocketing malpractice costs to doctors and redundant, unnecessary added tests because of that.
No transparency in hospital charges. Overburdensome government regulations on drug innovation.
What I had was Blue Cross/Blue Shield at $240 a month, $1,200 deductible. After the Affordable Care Act? I paid $600 a month with a $5,000 deductible. No kickbacks.
I’m now on Medicaid, thanks to certain voters. We now have doctors leaving practice in droves because of certain voters, fewer entering the field.
But on the other hand, as a man I have maternity care.
Government is the reason for this mess from the get-go. And government most certainly will not be the answer. Follow the money, not liberal bias.—Dean Hunkele
— The Daily Signal (@DailySignal) June 27, 2017
Pence Hears From Those Hurt by Obamacare
Dear Daily Signal: Having read Fred Lucas’s report on Vice President Mike Pence’s meeting with Obamacare “victims,” here is the beauty of Russian roulette health insurance (“Americans Struggling Under Obamacare Tell Pence ‘Real Story’“). If you don’t have a policy, you can walk into any emergency room in the USA and get treatment. Federal law says hospitals cannot turn people away.
So why buy any insurance if you can structure your life so no one can seize your home, car, or other personal property? It’s only the suckers or people who own stuff who need insurance.—William J. Powers
Too many people want health care for nothing. Throwing able-bodied people on Medicaid was disastrous. Too many people are freeloaders.—Sheryl Soden
Too many were denied some care when they most needed it. Not that that’s changed.
I know three women who have had to go through a second course of chemo treatments, and all three have had to fight long and hard for the past two or three months for covered care. Not right. We need protection against that sort of evil, money-grubbing insurance companies that took advantage of people.
Obamacare covered some and took from others. Instead of fixing what was wrong, they ruined it for those who were paying for it.—Josephine DeFranco
The most insidious thing for most of us isn’t premiums or rationed care, but deductibles. Those of us paying about $6,000 per year in premiums also have to pay $6,000 out of pocket before the insurance pays for anything besides a cursory once-a-year checkup. We have it, but can’t afford to use it.—Greg Hawkins
It comes down to understanding insurance before Obamacare and after Obamacare was put into place.
First of all, no one seems to know what Obamacare covers, including agencies that sell health insurance. Basically, you make a certain yearly salary to qualify for a government subsidy to help cover your insurance premium. Make less, you sign up for Medicaid. If you are a young women with no children, you do not qualify.
Therefore if you fall through the cracks you have no insurance. Or, in our case, we pay almost $400 a month for our 27-year-old daughter’s insurance. You can’t go to other states for treatment, or you go through major red tape and it costs you more.
I can go on and on. My advice: Stop complaining and educate yourself about health insurance. Quite honestly, we were doing just fine before Obama thought the government needed to be in the health care business.—Mary Helen Jeffcoat
Christine Roe helped compile this column.