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Obamacare 2.0?

Democrats are Poised to Compound a Problem They Created

November 19, 2018

It seems like only yesterday that Democrat lawmakers unilaterally passed the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. At the time, it was a widely unpopular law that was sold to the American people on false promises. It deprived countless individuals of their existing health insurance policies and their preferred doctors. Its oppressive regulations stifled economic growth, and it did nothing to reduce healthcare costs. Since Obamacare was passed, average insurance premiums have nearly doubled. Now Democrats have decided to take another bite of the apple. Leading up to the recent election, they again campaigned on the promise of affordable healthcare for everyone. In fact, Nancy Pelosi argues that Democrats won the House because “from the beginning” they focused on healthcare.

During President Trump’s post-election news conference, one reporter asked a question about the Republican plan for healthcare. In view of last year’s repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate, he wanted to know how pre-existing conditions can be covered without the revenue generated by the mandate.

That particular provision in Obamacare has always been the most controversial, the most onerous. It imposed heavy financial burdens on employers and on individuals who had no interest in purchasing health insurance. It had, for the first time in the history of our country, required every citizen to purchase something – health insurance. The cost of that insurance, or the alternative penalty fee, was ruled to be a lawful government tax only by the narrowest margin in the Supreme Court. But, as that reporter suggested, it was also an essential element of Obamacare. It was needed to fund the additional costs of insuring those with pre-existing conditions.

But “insuring” is not really the right word. “Insurance” is defined as “coverage by contract whereby one party undertakes to indemnify or guarantee another against loss by a specified contingency or peril.” Like all capitalistic enterprises, health insurance companies sprang up to fill a consumer need, while at the same time putting millions to work and generating profit for stockholders. They offered consumers a free-market solution to skyrocketing medical costs by charging premiums and paying benefits to the insured parties when they became sick or injured. Profit could only be assured by setting those premiums according to actuarial formulas that consider variables like age, health, and lifestyle of the insured. By requiring private companies to cover health issues that already exist, Obamacare changed the very definition of insurance. Democrats had once again succeeded in redefining a fundamental concept long accepted by our society.

Regarding that question about pre-existing conditions, none of the reporters in Barack Obama’s doting press corps ever asked this obvious question, “In a free-market system, how can any insurance company survive if the state requires it to insure against something that has already happened?”

As a country, we survived, even thrived, for nearly 200 years without a national healthcare program. Now, over a relatively short time span, nearly everyone has come to agree that all Americans must be provided with some form of healthcare.

But Democrats want much more than that. They’re not really interested in the free market solutions or in health insurance. The election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the re-election of Bernie Sanders and others on the far left suggests that this new, socialistic Democratic Party will work harder than ever to implement a single-payer plan, euphemistically called Medicare for all. Ultimately what they want is socialized medicine. Under such a plan, “pre-existing conditions” would have no meaning, and everyone in the country would receive the same Spartan-to-mediocre medical care that citizens in socialist countries endure. Those who contribute to the system would get the very same benefits as those who cannot or will not pay anything. The millions who regularly inhale, ingest, or inject various poisons into their bodies would get the same care afforded to health-conscious individuals. Those millions who are in this country illegally would also receive the same care.

And quality issues aside, the cost of such a plan would be staggering. Earlier this year, a proposed single-payer health care plan for North Carolina was scrapped when cost estimates came in at around $70 billion for that state alone, nearly twice the state’s budget. We would all like every man, woman, and child in America to be guaranteed the best quality healthcare in the world. That would truly be Utopia. But someone would have to pay the astronomical cost of such a program. The combined wealth of George Soros, Tom Steyer, the Clintons, the Hollywood elites, and all those wealthy liberals who want it – they can’t afford Utopia. The top one percent can’t pay for it. And we could not afford it even if we expanded our tax base to include the more than 70 million Americans and the vast numbers of illegal aliens who pay no income tax.

But through reasonable taxation funding government programs like CHIP, Medicaid, and Medicare, along with countless charitable organizations, America has long provided basic health care for nearly everyone citizen in the country. That system can always be improved. Eight years ago, Democrats reneged on their healthcare promises while penalizing millions of hard-working citizens who had been content with their long-held health insurance policies. Now, they seem poised to eliminate the entire insurance industry by socializing America’s healthcare system.

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Peter Lemiska has spent more than 28 years in government service. He is a former Senior Special Agent of the U.S. Secret Service and an Air Force veteran. His political commentaries have been widely published online and in print.