Wednesday, March 27, 2013

ObamaCare's Plan to Insure 30 Million More People Leads to 30 Million More People Being Insured

Here are a few of the headlines that caught my eye on the Yahoo! newsfeed this week:

The first article points out a glitch in the law that could affect two to four million people and whether or not they receive the proper tax credits to help pay for their insurance coverage. It's a legit hole that could easily be plugged if there was support in Congress to make government work better, rather than dismantle it.

The second article, however, seems to miss the overall point of the law. Let's face it, ObamaCare was a large bill, thousands of pages long, as Republicans were always eager to point out. Surely, you can pick out any one piece of the bill and say, this will hurt this business or that sector of the health care market. But when you take the bill in its entirety it's expected to be a net-good for almost everybody.

The bulk of the increase in claims costs will largely be passed on to the states who are implementing the expanded Medicaid coverage. And the Feds will be picking up 100% of those costs now and 90% in the future. The rest of the costs will effect those who get their insurance through the individual marketplace - self-employed people or very small businesses. Those who get insurance through their employer will not be affected by these changes.

With ObamaCare in general and on this issue specifically, my initial reaction usually is "compared to what?" If the baseline is millions of people have no health coverage and receive emergency room care for everything, then that currently is already driving up the costs of: health insurance, hospital reimbursements, tests and procedures, and the subsidies the government is providing for all of that. In the long term, after the initial increase in claims costs is absorbed, costs stabilize.

Focusing on something like increasing claims cost, which are due to more claims being filed because more people will have health coverage, while the costs of which are more than offset by reductions in costs elsewhere, misses the point. Covering more people is a feature of the law, not a bug. And if it was easy and inexpensive to extend coverage to the uninsured, it would have already been done years ago. The rise in claims costs was not unexpected and was already factored into the bill.

The key point here is that ObamaCare wasn't passed to ensure that the number of medical care claims were held steady. The main goals of ObamaCare were: 1)to help give thirty million-plus more people access to health coverage, 2)to end insurance company abuses by more tightly regulating the health insurance market, and 3)by doing those previous two things and by implementing hundreds more cost control mechanisms, to attempt to eventually bring down the growth in health care costs to a more manageable number going forward, so we can deal with our long-term debt problem. You can't accomplish those goals without some minor and somewhat major changes and reforms.

Update 03/28/13: Yahoo! News continues to troll ObamaCare.....

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