State of the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act otherwise known as ObamaCare has been law since 3/23/2010. How is it doing and what can we learn from its existence?

In 2017, about 13 million Americans had insurance plans on the ACA. Of that number, 8 million received some form of subsidy to help pay for their coverage; leaving 5 million who did not get any help paying their premiums. These numbers do not include those with group coverage.

Would anyone call that a successful program? What is it costing the American taxpayer to provide health insurance for those 8 million? How much of our tax dollars are going to provide this coverage? I suspect way too much. (That actual cost is not made public unless buried somewhere in the annual budget.)

Any time in history where the government gets involved financially has been a fiscal disaster. Consider for a moment the fiscal state of social security, Medicare and let’s not forget the Post Office. All are in trouble fiscally and are managed by the federal government.

While the idea of providing health insurance directed by the federal government seems to be a good idea, it really hasn’t materialized that way. The cost of coverage is too high, the benefits too low and each year the cost goes up and benefits go down.

Consider for a moment, the state of nationalized healthcare anywhere else in the world. Those countries with socialized medicine have very high taxes (to pay for health care and other services), have limits on the types of care and as we age, the ability to get services decreases. In other words, if you need a knee replacement and over 70 years old, you might not get it because the return on investment is not there versus the cost to do the surgery. (Meaning your life expectancy doesn’t match the cost versus your value to society). That’s the truth about socialized medicine and that’s where most American public doesn’t want to go.

So what are the alternatives? I suspect many have considered alternatives other than ObamaCare is no good so we have to repeal and replace. I am not going to get into the political side of this argument other than to say it’s hurting Americans and needs to stop. Cooler heads need to prevail.

Some of the ideas being discussed make sense while others do not. Medicare for all is one such topic that would destroy us financially and should not be considered. Association health plans might be a solution for those small businesses to get coverage.

We need insurance that is responsive to all, provides needed care for those that need it and has reasonable costs. Not an easy task. That means we need to go back to the drawing board and logically assess the situation and come up with some ideas that could actually work.

Not impossible, but can be done with some clear thinking on both sides of the aisle and leave the politics at the door. A commission of people made up of all stakeholders; including from the insurance companies, the medical profession, the drug companies and insurance brokers, the general public and others could come up with something that works.

The stakes are high because if we continue on the current path, it will self-destruct due to excessive costs and lack of any really successful plans.

To have any success in this endeavor, realistic pricing has to prevail. Americans are paying too much for their health care costs compared to other countries. We pay too much for medications, hospitalization and other testing and that needs to be addressed.

Can we come up with something that allows us to have the choices we need while keeping the costs in check so we are not paying for a 2nd mortgage for health insurance?

To do that we need to examine what we are paying for and why? Like Pavlov’s dogs, we are accustomed to $25 Doctor Visits. Is that realistic in the 21st Century? I don’t think so!

To change the paradigm we need to consider what is realistic and makes sense while taking into consideration how it would affect the general public.

This is not an easy task and needs to be well thought out before unveiling it to the public. So far, the only idea is ObamaCare which is a precursor to national health care or a single payer system and a place we don’t want to go. (Many Democrats have admitted that several times so I’m not casting any aspersions on anyone, just making a statement of fact.)

Americans need and deserve an answer and a solution. When is that going to happen? Not soon enough for this blogger because every day I have to apologize to my clients because of the cost of insurance versus the actual benefits. I’m tired of doing that and want a solution. We need one.

The Barend Agency Inc.

Len Barend, broker




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