So much attention has been paid to the freedoms we’ll be losing under Obamacare (courtesy of Chief Justice Roberts) that we’ve tended to overlook the many other reasons to oppose the law — reasons that should make even liberals hate the legislation.
1.) Health insurance will cost more than it would have without Obamacare. That shouldn’t be surprising considering the long list of services (including obesity and domestic violence screening and counseling) that insurance companies will be required to provide for “free” and considering that insurance companies will be required to accept all applicants, regardless of how ill they are. However, our math-challenged president once claimed that Obamacare will reduce premiums by “as much as 3,000%” (meaning that insurance companies will start paying people to stay insured) and still insists it will reduce premiums for a family of four by “as much as $2,300.” Even one of Obamacare’s designers, Jonathan Gruber, is telling states to expect that premiums for individual policies will be 30% more by 2016 than they would have been without Obamacare (PriceWaterhouseCoopers has projected a 47% increase).
2.) If you like your current health insurance plan, good luck keeping it. With employers penalized if they offer too generous an insurance plan, a plan not meeting government-prescribed minimum requirements, or a plan that the government deems unaffordable by certain employees, and with insurance costs skyrocketing, employers will have to adjust what coverage they provide and how much of the cost their employees share.
3.) Obamacare won’t fulfill President Obama’s goal of decreasing how much our nation spends on healthcare. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently estimated that national health care spending will increase from 16.8% of gross domestic product in 2010 (the latest year for which statistics are available) to about 26% by 2037.
4.) Federal spending on healthcare will crowd out spending for other purposes (such as for education and defense). The CBO has projected that healthcare spending will be 24.5% of federal non-interest spending in 2012 and 39.8% in 2037.
5.) Obamacare will cost people jobs. Chris Conover has estimated for Forbes that one million or more jobs, mainly for lower-wage earners, will be lost because of the additional taxes and higher employment costs imposed by Obamacare.
6.) The tax credit (up to 98% of the cost of a policy) to help people purchase health insurance is distributed unfairly. You can’t get a credit if you’re too poor, your (or your spouse’s) employer provides affordable individual coverage (but not affordable family coverage that you need), or the exchange selling insurance in your state was established by the federal government instead of the state. Obamacare actually discourages average Americans from working for an employer who offers health insurance. For example, assume that two individuals each have skills worth $30,000 a year. An employer who provides insurance will deduct the cost of the insurance from the $30,000. By contrast, an employer not providing insurance will pay the $30,000, and the employee will be entitled to a tax credit (worth more than $10,000 for family coverage) in addition to the $30,000.
7.) People will be penalized for marrying or earning additional income. As little as $1 of extra income (maybe from a child’s illegal lemonade stand) can reduce the tax credit for purchasing health insurance by more than $100 or disqualify an individual from a credit worth more than $10,000. Individuals living together can lose most or all of their credit if they marry. Two individuals, each with $200,000 of income, could have to pay an additional $5,700 (Obamacare’s new Medicare tax on the “rich”) if they marry (the tax applies to individuals with more than $200,000 of income and married individuals with more than $250,000 of income).
8.) Obamacare will stifle the innovation needed to improve people’s health and prolong their lives. Obamacare’s comparative effectiveness review process will increase the cost of developing drugs and medical devices, delay the introduction of new drugs and devices, and discourage research and development projects by increasing the risk that a drug or device will be rejected because the government decides that another drug or device is better. Obamacare’s tax on the proceeds (not just profits) from sales of medical devices is expected to reduce research and development on medical devices by billions of dollars each year.
9.) Health care will be provided by large businesses. Obamacare has already encouraged businesses to merge and physicians to become hospital employees to cope with the law’s imposition of smaller profit margins and high compliance costs. These bigger businesses have been using their market power to charge higher prices for care. There’s no reason to believe that they’re providing better care.
10.) Just saying that everyone will have health insurance and quality care doesn’t make it so. The CBO has estimated that Obamacare will leave 30 million individuals uninsured. Millions of those given insurance will be thrown into Medicaid, which provides poorer care than private insurance, mainly because many doctors refuse to treat people on Medicaid and states skimp on coverage. Paying for a good chunk of Obamacare by cutting payments to doctors and hospitals treating Medicare patients is bound to adversely affect the quality of care provided to Medicare beneficiaries. We already have a shortage of doctors (130,600 by 2025 according to the American Medical Colleges). We’re not likely to get the best people to become doctors by reducing their pay and limiting their freedom to practice what they believe is best for their patients.
At this month’s Democratic National Convention, Vice President Biden accused Republicans of “betting against the American people.” But it is he and his fellow Democrats who have no faith in the American people. Instead of making free market reforms to unleash the genius of Americans to come up with innovative ways to improve health care and make it more affordable, President Obama and his fellow Democrats have bet that politicians and bureaucrats are best able to design our healthcare system. Their hubris would be laughable if the consequences for our country weren’t so dire.
David Gibberman, a lawyer, writes about legal and financial matters for professionals, college students, and the general public.