By Brian C. Joondeph
Whether President Obama's numerous assertions about keeping your insurance and your doctor qualify as the whopper of the year may be a subject of debate, but suppose his comments were instead about your car. How would a hypothetical government program called "Affordable Car Act" look if it were based on the rules and implementation of Obamacare?
If 10 percent of Americans don't own a car, that translates to 30 million people who are car-less. This is a national tragedy, given the history of the automobile in U.S. industry and culture. There is a clamor for "universal car coverage" and a "single-model system" for cars in America. The media trumpet the hardship of consumers having to choose among hundreds of models of car and the disparity in prices and features. The president and his party seek to remedy this national embarrassment by instituting a law called the Affordable Car Act, or "Obama-Car."
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Motorists worry about losing their existing and beloved cars, trucks and SUVs. This includes many young or unemployed individuals who are driving older model cars that serve them well and cost little to maintain. The president and members of his party assure them that, "If you like your car you can keep your car. Period." But as Obama-Car rolls out, the public learns otherwise.
The law mandates that drivers can no longer keep their "substandard" cars. These cars may not have navigation systems, aggravating the "war on men" since it is well known that men don't ask for directions. Other cars don't have adaptive cruise control, creating risk for those who text and sip their lattes while driving. And not all vehicles have built in child seats, posing a danger to infants and young children, even if such vehicles only transport adults.
The new "Car Care" law requires everyone to own and drive a Lexus. Consumers must choose one of three models: pricey, pricier and priciest. Each Lexus is loaded with options – navigation, child seats, heated and ventilated seats, leather seats and trim and a premium sound system. Your existing car will soon be illegal. You must give up your beloved Mustang or Camry, even if it serves your driving needs and budget just fine. And the Lexus will cost more than your old car. Your new Lexus has a V8 engine and requires premium gasoline, far more expensive than the regular gasoline your hybrid needed. So much for the president's other promise of saving you $2,500 per year in car costs.
Furthermore, even if you don't drive or have need of a car, you must still buy a Lexus. Live in New York City and use public transportation? Tough, you too must own a new Lexus. But if you are lucky, you may qualify for a parking subsidy. And if you refuse to purchase a Lexus, the IRS will fine you.
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To purchase your new Lexus, replacing the sporty BMW you bought last year, you cannot visit a dealership, as they no longer exist. You must instead go through the CarCare.gov website that actually functions for only 11 minutes each day. You purchase your new car sight unseen, but only after supplying this website with more personal information than needed to get a passport. Time is running out. Come Jan. 1, if you are driving anything other than an approved Lexus, your car will be confiscated.
Want to drive to another state to visit Aunt Mabel? Too bad, your Lexus won't work anywhere other than in your own state. Want to take a shortcut to work? Sorry, that road is out of your "driving network" and you must take the long way instead, regardless of traffic or construction holding you up. Want to gas up at your local service station? Nope. Your "gas network" only includes Costco gas stations, and the nearest one is a quarter tank of gas away.
Any wonder why public support for Obamacare is sinking?
Brian C. Joondeph has practiced for 23 years as a retina surgeon, working both in private practice and academics, including several years in another country with nationalized health care. He has also completed a master's degree in health-care leadership at the University of Denver, with much study of current and alternative health-care delivery systems.