ObamaCare is failing the American people. The White House seemed to acknowledge that when HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell conceded it was a challenge to enroll more than one out of four eligible Americans on the exchanges.
Even Hillary Clinton is conceding ObamaCare is failing the people, especially in the middle class. But rather than repeal this government-controlled healthcare train wreck and replace it with a better system, she wants to fix it – with more government control! True to her liberal progressive ideology, she thinks doubling-down on a failed system will somehow make it better.
Rising Out-of-pocket Costs
Clinton wants to fix the problem of rising out-of-pocket costs. There is no doubt that is a problem. A major survey of employers recently released showed that American workers’ out-of-pocket medical costs are rising far faster than wages or overall inflation (only 0.2% last year). People are experiencing large increases in deductibles – an average of $6,600 for individuals and $13,000 for families in 2014. This is a much higher rate of increase than overall healthcare costs.
The reasons for these rising costs to the American family can be traced back to the origins of the new healthcare law. The Affordable Care Act is built on a government-mandated system that requires healthcare insurance to provide coverage for many treatments people don’t need – like mammograms for men and prostate exams and birth control for all women, even nuns. All ObamaCare compliant plans must provide coverage for everyone. That drives up the cost for everyone.
The cost is also driven up by requiring insurance providers to cover all pre-existing medical conditions and limiting premium thresholds to three levels, rather than the usual six. That means the young and healthy must pay more than their share to cover the cost of the elderly and sick who pay less.
These government regulations are the cause of the high premiums and high deductibles that Clinton is concerned about – and rightfully so. But rather than admit that the cause is too much government control, she wants to fix the problem with more government control.
The Wall Street Journal reports Clinton proposed barring insurers from offering health plans that charge patients more than $250 a month in copayments for drugs. She also suggested a change in the tax code that would bar drug companies from counting spending on consumer advertising as a business expense.
She also proposed requiring prescription-drug companies to spend a set portion of their revenue on research and development, or forfeit federal support such as tax credits or research money. Most large drug companies spend between 15 and 20% of their revenue on R& D. The Clinton campaign didn’t say what level she would require.
Another Clinton proposal calls for insurers to relax their rules on provider networks that sting people with unexpected bills, include coverage for three sick visits a year to the doctor before the deductibles kick in, and create a new tax credit to help people pay for out-of-pocket medical costs. All of these proposals will help pass the costs of healthcare from consumers to providers and taxpayers, but will do nothing to lower the real expenses created by this government-controlled system.
In other words, Hillary’s solution to a system that costs too much to keep insurance premiums and deductibles low enough to be affordable is to make the system cost the providers and taxpayers more – by lowering profits, increasing business expenses and increasing R& D investments. When the profits are all gone, who does she think will be there to provide healthcare?
Hillary Clinton is certainly intelligent enough to understand that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” Someone has to pay. When you create an expensive government-regulated healthcare system, it will be expensive to provide healthcare. She just doesn’t think the American voter is sophisticated enough to realize that the one who pays will be the American taxpayer – either through higher taxes or by rationing of healthcare – as all socialized medicine systems do.
Instead of trying to “fix what consumers pay” she should be offering solutions to actually lower the costs of providing healthcare. That requires reducing, not increasing, government control of healthcare and providing consumers freedom of choice to pick lower cost plans that meet their specific needs – at the lowest possible price for both consumers and providers.