The Republicans were the first to tag the Affordable Care Act system “Obamacare.” President Obama said he did not mind the name. The question here is, was the originally proposed health care system here in the U.S., based more on the tried and tested systems in Canada and Great Britain, substantially changed by pressure from Congress to accommodate the ever-powerful U.S. insurance companies and their well-funded lobbyists? We will let you decide!
This is the true story of a hard working young couple living in a small town trying to make ends meet. Bob and his wife Anne were so excited about the birth of a new baby. The baby was finally here and Anne was home on maternity leave. They never gave a second thought to their health insurance as they were covered by a group policy at work. Hey presto! In all the excitement, guess what happened? They forgot, and no-one reminded them, that the baby had to be added to the health insurance within 30 days. This meant that they would have to wait until the next open enrollment period at work, which was 10 months away, to have their new baby covered. All was well until the baby appeared to have a severe platelet disorder which could be cancer. The hospital suggested extensive, and expensive, testing. At this stage, the only possibility open to Bob and Anne for any insurance coverage was the Affordable Care Act. So the baby was signed up for “Obamacare.”
We can only imagine the distress Bob and Anne went through which was very much compounded by the financial situation they now found themselves in. Before all was said and done, Bob had to pay $2,700.00 in premiums and $6,000.00 in deductible for 10 months of coverage to cover the heavy medical expenses for the baby. And all this was on top of the family’s shared costs for their normal insurance coverage. The good news is that, after all of this, we can report that the baby is well and thriving. The bad news is that Bob and Anne are out $8,700.00. All in all, it will take them years to recover financially.
So what can we conclude from all of this? Yes, “Obamacare” was there for them, but at a very stiff price. Other reports have shown that the price people have to pay for the Affordable Care Act coverage is actually not really affordable. In fact, it is darn right pricey! Certainly if you ask Bob and Anne is the coverage was “affordable” their answer would be a resounding NO!
At this point, this was no “Cornucopia” for Bob and his family. Rather, they had opened Pandora’s Box. They had discovered that mixing the old, traditional health insurance with the new Affordable Care Act was a recipe for financial hardship.
The Canadian and British health care systems work on a “single payer” basis, tried and tested for decades. In these systems, coverage is from birth to death for every citizen without the individual burden of substantial deductibles and premiums.
This article cannot describe the nuances of each system, single payer versus the American system, except to conclude that the Canadian and British systems are far less convoluted and the costs are painlessly extracted from the general tax revenues received with no premiums levied on the individual. For U.S. residents a frightening part of the Affordable Care Act, apart from the substantial cost of mandatory coverage, is the direct involvement of the IRS which levies penalties for failing to sign up and maintain the payment of premiums.
According to CNN Money, it appears that the initial Obamacare participants are sicker than those covered under Employer Plans and are costing the insurers more money at the ER and doctors. This is hardly surprising, and expected by the architects of Obamacare, although probably not to this extent. Once the medical care for everyone has brought the previously uninsured medical risks down to the same levels as those who were always insured then these costs should start tapering off.
Therefore, having made this investment, apart from tweaking the system, perhaps it would make sense to see Obamacare through to the daylight of a new healthier America with coverage for all. To go back now and try something else could be even more costly and disruptive at this point and counter-intuitive.
It isn’t the current system, necessarily, that is at fault; it was the neglecting of huge groups of Americans for many decades that caused the problem in the first place – there is no easy fix.