The official title is the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (bill text here), popularly known as “Obamacare,” passed by the Senate in the wee-hours of Christmas Eve. This 2,400-page monstrosity does what no enemy of America has ever been able to do: transform the land of the free into the home of the enslaved.
For the first time in the history of the nation, the federal government will force its citizens to purchase a product.
If Americans – through their elected officials – accept this principle, there is nothing to prevent the federal government from forcing its citizens to purchase any other product the government decides its citizens should have.
Nowhere does the Constitution authorize the federal government to require its citizens to purchase anything. The writers of this bill, however, conclude that even though insurance sales may be limited by each state, health insurance is still sold across state lines, and therefore is subject to federal regulations under the commerce clause, and that regulatory authority includes the authority to force citizens to purchase health insurance, whether they want it or not.
Individuals who fail to purchase the required insurance will be fined 1/12 of the annual cost of the required insurance with penalties “not to exceed 300 percent” (Chapter 48, Section 5000A, page 321 ff.).
As bad as this legislation is, it is just the first step toward a much worse condition: government control of health care.
That’s the plan.
Like a master snake-oil salesman, Obama loudly condemns the horrible insurance companies that increase rates and make profits, as the reason the government must act to provide relief to consumers.
He ignores the fact that increased rates are required to pay the increased costs of providing health-care service. He ignores the fact that much of the increased cost of service is the unintended consequence of government’s involvement in health care.
There are two primary reasons why health care is unaffordable for some citizens: 1) the misguided belief of some that everyone has a “right” to health care; and 2) government’s efforts to provide health care to everyone, including people who are in our country illegally.
In its effort to provide more health care to more people, the government has distorted the market, and the consequence has been removal of the cost factor from the consumer. In a free market, the consumer is king. It is the purchase that triggers the flow of money. Providers compete for the consumer’s purchase by offering products and services at prices low enough to incite the consumer to act. Consumers shop and compare, denying dollars to providers whose price is too high or service is too low.
Enter the government. Medicare offers an excellent example. Consumers no longer care about price. The cost of service is not a deterrent. Consumers are thereby encouraged to consume at will. Providers no longer care about winning the customer’s purchase; the government will pay. Moreover, the government will pay what the government wants to pay, so there is no incentive for the provider to compete in price or service. Since government is paying a fixed fee for products and services, suppliers throughout the system seek ways to maximize payment. Over time, they get really good at it. That’s why the actual cost of Medicare has vastly outstripped its estimated costs.
These increased costs permeate the industry and apply to non-Medicare patients as well. That’s why insurance companies are forced to increase rates. In a real free market, consumers would be able to shop different insurance companies to find the best service at the best rate.
Enter the government – again. Government limits the choices consumers have. Obamacare will limit private choices even further by imposing regulations that will force private companies out of business.
When government is paying for health care, government dictates the quantity, quality and price of the care. The costs that are not extracted as premiums or copay will be extracted as increased taxes.
When government is paying for health care, there are no choices, there are no options. Every life is subject to whatever requirements the government may choose to impose. Smokers, for example, could be denied certain services – should the government so decide. Overweight people could be denied certain services unless they meet government-imposed weight limits. Seniors could be denied life-extending procedures should the government decide that the cost is greater than the benefit.
Perhaps the worst consequence of Obamacare is the expansion of a culture that depends upon government; that teaches that government can bestow rights, whether to health care, education, a living wage, or all the other so-called rights listed in the socialists’ agenda.
Obamacare, if enacted, is indeed a shortcut to socialism.