By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
Let’s have a conversation about health care.
Specifically, let’s talk about Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, and the cost of health insurance these days – a matter several people in this State say led to their vote for Donald Trump.
If that sounds like you, let me begin properly: You’re wrong.
You’re wrong about it all. Every little piece of it.
Dead. Stinking. Wrong.
You can’t just repeal it and go back to “what we had.” You can’t keep the portions of Obamacare that you like and do away with the portions you don’t like (i.e., the portions that pay for the parts you like). And you can’t just dump 20 million people from their plans and expect that it’ll save you money.
But the thing that you’re most wrong about is this: Obamacare didn’t raise insurance prices.
You did. We all did.
We raised insurance prices through decades of behaving like ignorant children who enjoyed the benefits of insurance without ever questioning how the bill was being paid.
We did it by ignoring, for decades, the steady increase in health care costs due to uninsured individuals showing up at ERs to receive the most expensive care on the planet, then skipping out on a bill that would be ultimately passed on to the rest of us.
We did it by ignoring the growing number of people who were being denied insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions or the people who were kicked off of insurance rolls when they were at their sickest.
We did it by ignoring the fact that if an employer didn’t offer health insurance coverage, it was virtually impossible to afford a single plan, and in many cases was cheaper to just pay the doctor bill – a situation that encouraged people not to seek preventive care.
We ignored those things for so long that by the late 2000s, insurance rates had increased more than 200 percent in less than a decade, despite a record number of people being booted from insurance rolls.
On top of that, thanks to the 2008 economic crash, millions of Americans had lost both their jobs and their insurance coverage, which meant a whole bunch of people were about to start arriving at ERs, further driving up the costs.
This is the reality. Your rates were increasing steadily and your coverage declining, even on employer-sponsored plans.
The only thing that Obamacare has done is attempt to cut off the cycle of uninsured by mandating coverage. The idea, of course, is that by decreasing the pool of uninsured, you stop the single biggest cause of rate increases.
Has that increased your rates some on the front end as many of the sickest regained health insurance?
Sure it has.
But it’s time for a lot of you to grow up. If you weren’t aware that the correction to decades of indifference would be costly, or if you are advocating returning to the old system because it let you live in blissful health care stupidity, you should be hit on the head with a hammer.
More than 40,000 Americans per year were dying because they lacked the means to pay for health insurance.
If a lack of health insurance spoke Arabic and swore allegiance to ISIS as it killed 40,000, we’d pay trillions to stop it. And if we could get health insurance to carry a football on Saturday afternoons, maybe we could get a few more people to understand the basics of coverage costs and shopping for insurance plans.
There isn’t a week that goes by, even after all of this talk of Obamacare and its effect on every single person in the country, that someone doesn’t talk about “getting on Obamacare,” as if the Affordable Care Act is a new type of insurance.
I also can’t tell you how many of my friends I’ve helped shop for coverage on the exchange – even in Alabama, where Blue Cross/Blue Shield’s monopoly keeps competitive prices away – and they’ve discovered the worst kept secret in health care: your insurance companies have tried to scam you into paying more.
Most have done so by sending you letters stating that your plans have been cancelled and a comparable plan is now going to cost you 12 billion dollars per month with your first born as a deductible.
This has led to roughly 100 percent of the social media posts from your uncle proclaiming his insurance costs are now a thousand times higher.
But it’s not true. There are several cheaper plans on the exchange.
Are they more expensive than what you were paying five years ago? Of course.
But that’s not Obama’s or Obamacare’s fault. We drove up the prices of health care through our ignorance, greed and indifference.
What we’re experiencing now is the consequences of those actions.