Obamacare: When You Want Someone Else to Pay Your Doctor Bills
“We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
Earth Day poster – 1970
I discovered the problem with our healthcare system – We want someone else to pay for our healthcare! We want $50 monthly insurance premiums and zero out-of-pocket costs. To the chagrin of the entitled, this is an impossibility. Insurance is a zero-sum game – it merely transfers healthcare costs from one person to another(s). The total of all healthcare expenses must equal the total of all health insurance premiums paid, plus any co-pays and deductibles. For every person whose health care costs exceed their premiums paid, there must be another person(s) whose premium dollars paid, exceed their healthcare costs. There is no money tree growing on the back lawn of the White House.
One of the issues with Obamacare was the requirement that no applicant be denied coverage or required to pay a higher premium, based on preexisting conditions. While many believe that is the right thing to do, it is, in fact, creating the very problem mentioned above – wanting someone else pay for my healthcare. For every high health cost person added to the insurance ranks, the rest of us need to pay higher premiums to cover the increased cost to the system (my personal premiums and deductibles have increased over 100% following Obamacare, and 40% this year alone). While we made insurance more affordable to the high health cost individuals, we made insurance less affordable for the rest of us.
We need to decide if health insurance is a right, or an option. Except when purchased through an employer, no other type of insurance, be it life, disability, etc. has guaranteed issue without regard for one’s health. While health care costs can financially ruin a family, the premature death of a breadwinner, or even worse, the disablement of said person can lead to far worse financial outcomes.
So, how is this health insurance problem solved? Either we go to universal healthcare, or, we increase the penalty tax on those that do not have coverage, to an amount equal to the least expensive healthcare plan available to them. The latter option increases the premium dollars placed into the system to offset the higher costs of providing insurance to those who experience higher than average claims. Unless we remove significant costs from the healthcare system, any solution other than these two is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
Another option, being floated around the Trump administration, is the use of Health Savings Accounts. I can see this working if we create catastrophic coverage plans – policies with $20k, $50k, or even $100k deductibles. Redirecting current funds spent on insurance premiums to our personal HSA accounts would allow use of those funds to pay for our own health costs. What? Pay our own health costs? What a novel idea. Then, we might just get serious about taking on the real enemy – us!