Scrapping the Affordable Care Act would return health insurance to the bad old days
By MICHAEL W. DOMINOWSKI
The annual Open Enrollment period has begun again as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) enters its fourth year. After all this time, thanks to lackluster explanations by its supporters and vigorous disinformation from the Republican-controlled Congress, it seems fewer people than ever actually understand the program. All they know is that rates are still going up, and they don’t like it.
To begin with, so-called “Obamacare” is not insurance. It is a marketplace where insurance is sold. Companies who set up stalls in that marketplace must all meet certain coverage requirements and they must sell to anyone, regardless of their current health status. You, the shopper, get to choose which plan you prefer.
Before the marketplace existed (just a few years ago) individuals found it all but impossible to buy health insurance at any price. If you had a pre-existing condition, or even if you were healthy but had a family history of, for example, cancer or heart disease, you were simply out of luck.
Premiums are free to soar
Controlling costs is not one of the ACA rules. The Republican-controlled Congress saw to that. They claimed competition alone would hold costs down. That has not worked out because, for a relatively small amount of money, young, healthy people can avoid buying insurance.
Health insurance is not about health care. It is a scheme to turn a profit by managing risk. It is a corporate bet that while some people will file claims, many others will not. If more people have insurance, the risk is spread around and the bet is likely to pay off.
Health insurance becomes a losing proposition for companies when only people likely to file claims have insurance. To maintain profitability (which is the sole reason corporations exist), insurance companies have no choice but to raise premiums.
The GOP has worked assiduously to undermine this insurance industry basic. They wanted to eliminate the coverage rules – which leveled the playing field and prevented insurance companies from using the fine print in their policies to deceive customers and deny coverage. They also wanted to make carrying insurance optional.
Together these acts of political vandalism would have destroyed the ACA. The Republicans took their recalcitrance all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court – where they lost. But they have not given up.
After scores of failed votes to repeal the law, the GOP is still vowing to try and try again.
Bribe money trumps regulations
Why do Republicans hate allowing people the freedom to buy affordable quality health insurance? Follow the money.
Unlike in most of the rest of the world, health care in the United States is a huge for-profit industry. It is controlled by Big Medicine (hospitals, physicians and other providers), Big Pharma (the drug companies) and Big Insurance.
The companies are legally allowed to spend as much money as they wish to attempt to influence (or call it what it is, bribe) Congress and government regulators, at the expense of your interests.
Complain to your Republican congressional representative if it makes you feel better. But your opinion, quite frankly, doesn’t matter to them.
On the other hand, your vote still counts.
Michael W. Dominowski is the editor of Not For Hire Media.