Like a cheap sweater that can be pulled apart by tugging at a thread, Obamacare is in tatters. Soaring costs of premiums coupled with outrageous deductible hikes have made things worse, not better. All of this was predictable.
Despite being less than a decade old, the law has clearly failed. The cost of health care did not bend downward as promised. The cost of insurance did not fall, and families certainly didn’t save the promised “$2,000 a year,” as President Obama guaranteed. The law was built on a foundation of sand — the faulty belief that more government intervention could make things better for everyone. It hasn’t.
Just ask those who signed up for Obamacare-created health care co-ops, of which nearly 85 percent have already collapsed. These non-profit enterprises promised to bring down health care costs by eliminating the profit motive from health care. If profit was eliminated, the theory went, then consumers would get a better deal. That idea flopped too.
Within a few years and backed by millions of dollars in federal grants and subsidies, 19 Obamacare co-ops closed. Today, only four remain, and some of those are also hanging by a thread. ‘
New Mexico’s Health Connections is the latest co-op to be running a balance sheet in the red. A recently filed financial statement reveals that the co-op was financially depleted and reported a net loss for the second quarter. State law mandates that if the company’s risk-based capital is below the 30 percent threshold, the state regulator takes control of the company. To avoid this eventuality, the co-op sold portions of its business to a for-profit company. Someone made off like a bandit, but it wasn’t the taxpayers, who kicked in $77 million in loans that do not appear will ever be paid back, despite claims to the contrary.
A common thread over these “non-profit” cooperatives is that executives were the ones who profited. According to documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Dr. Martin Hickey, the CEO of Health Connections, was paid nearly half a million in salary a year. Key members of the staff all received six-figure salaries as well.
Unfortunately, rather than recognize that government intervention is not a panacea, many members of Congress — from Sen. Bernie Sanders to newly-elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — are demanding bigger government. They have endorsed the so-called “Medicare for All” proposal, which outlaws most forms of private health insurances, eliminates patients’ relationship with their doctor, and forces tens of millions of Americans into a socialized health care plan. By adding more bureaucracy, this proposal is nothing more than a continuation of the failed status quo that will open a Pandora’s Box of new unintended consequences.
By eliminating consumer choice, Medicare for All would destroy the one segment of the health industry that is thriving: the so-called “concierge” doctors that refuse to take any form of insurance. These growing number of primary care doctors are abandoning the paperwork, battles with reimbursement, and mounting regulations to treat patients, which is what they were trained to do. And guess what — patients are getting better service and more customized treatment, while doctors earn a profit, all without government involvement.
In a sea of bureaucratic ruin, the success of concierge doctors is a testament to the wonders that can be achieved by free market forces. Why do politicians seem intent on ruining a good thing? Why are they trying to solve the healthcare industry’s problems caused by big government with more government?
When asked about how to pay for the estimated $33 trillion-dollar price tag, Ocasio-Cortez said, “You just pay it.” It doesn’t seem to matter to her that $33 trillion is equivalent to eight times the size of the current federal government.
The Obamacare co-op fiasco is just the latest stain on a law that has harmed more than it helped, drove costs up rather than down, and chased doctors out of the profession. Let’s learn from these mistakes and correct them by chopping away at red tape, not adding more.