Americans are about to have a rude awakening with respect to the (un) Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Over the past year or so, many, including me, have warned of the many inadequacies, inefficiencies, inequities and unintended consequences of this law. There is no need to rehash them here, but virtually all of those predictions are or will be coming to pass.
The Obamacare website one is supposed to use to sign up became available on October 1. To date, it has been an unmitigated disaster. The overwhelming majority of applicants have been locked out, and the site has crashed repeatedly. The situation is so dire that Kathleen Sabelius, the Cabinet Secretary in charge, has been heavily criticized by the public and the press and has been compelled to testify before Congress. Her responses to questions have been inadequate to say the least. Bad as this is, it is only the appetizer. The main course will be served on January 1, 2014, when the law becomes effective. Suffice to say that the apathetic, inattentive populace is about to receive a giant wake up call. It is one thing to ignore previous scandals, such as Fast and Furious, Benghazi and the IRS politically-motivated investigations; it is quite another to expect people to ignore Obamacare, which affects their finances and healthcare directly.
Below please find some of the highlights (or, if you prefer, lowlights):
1. A recent CBS News poll reported that 12% of people surveyed thought the sign up process was “going well” compared to 49% who thought it was not and 38% who didn’t know.
2. A NY Medical Society survey of 414 NY doctors reported that 44% stated they will not participate in OB care, 33% reported that they “may,” and only 23% reported that they will. An increasing number of doctors have been or plan to establish boutique (cash only) practices. This will mean that you may not be able to afford to continue seeing your current doctor and/or the waiting time for a visit or tests will increase substantially. Since the advent of “Romneycare,” the waiting time to see a doctor in Massachusetts has doubled. In addition, one must wait up to 50 days, on average, to see an Internist. The Boston Herald has reported that healthcare costs consumed approximately 41% of Massachuusetts’ budget in 2013 compared to 23% in 2000. This can be viewed as a forerunner of life in the US under OB care.
3. Many individuals and families have had their private insurance cancelled. California-Kaiser Permanente has cancelled 50% of its policies with individuals. Blue Shield (CA) has cancelled 60%. Independence Blue Cross (PA) has cancelled 45%. Florida Blue Cross has cancelled 80%. The Director of Health Policy at UCLA estimates that overall 50% will be eliminated.
4. I have warned that it was simple common sense and simple mathematics that those who work and who currently have insurance will be paying for those who don’t. Well, it is estimated that the Medicare payroll tax will be increased from 2.9% to 3.8% on wages and business profits of up to $200,000. This will be a significant hit on middle class workers and small businesses with all the attendant economic and social consequences. Healthcare insurers will be assessed an annual fee of $100 billion over the next 10 years. Any company with over 50 employees that does not provide healthcare insurance for its employees will have to pay a “tax” of $2,000 per employee every year. These fees/taxes, like all other business costs, will be passed on the people in the form of higher premiums and/or prices.
5. Many have seen higher premiums already. To date, they are up approximately 17% for individuals and 19% for families. In addition, since January 2013 Medicare has been charging a new fee called IRMAA to wealthy recipients. This is for Part D (prescriptions) coverage. One is required to pay the fee, which is $50 and up per person per month even if one has his prescription coverage with another carrier.
6. The CBO has estimated that in order to fund Obamacare there will be $1 trillion in new or higher taxes over the next 10 years. When all is said and done, that estimate will likely prove to be on the low side.
7. IT contractors have warned that the personal data one supplies to the Obamacare website is not subject to protection under HIPA laws, and it can easily be accessed by unauthorized persons.
8. President Obama has personally misled, if not outright lied, to the American people as follows:
a. He promised that Americans would be able to keep their present healthcare plans if they wanted to do so. In a speech on 6/15/09 he said “If you like your healthcare plan you will be able to keep your healthcare plan. Period.” That statement is at odds with all the cancellations mentioned above.
b. If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period.” Not true, as many doctors have or plan to set up boutique practices.
c. On 9/20/09: “This is absolutely not a tax increase.” The Supreme Court ruled otherwise, thus paving the way for the law’s passage.
d. And, my favorite: On four occasions during 2008 he stated insurance premiums would be lowered for individuals an average of $2,500. Instead, the Heritage Foundation estimates that they will increase an average of $16,500 per family. Furthermore, this does not take into account the higher deductibles we can expect.
PREDICTION AND CONCLUSION
Obamacare is not just about providing healthcare. Simply put, it is another element of President Obama’s desire for income and wealth redistribution and government control over Americans’ lives. Take from the achievers and give to the non-achievers, and have the government control the process. Karl Marx would be proud.
Hopefully, Americans will now wake up and express their dissatisfaction at the polls in 2014 and 2016. Otherwise, all I can say is “you get the government you deserve.”