"Over half of all small businesses can no longer afford to insure their workers, and so many others have responded to rising costs by laying off workers or shutting their doors for good"
A line from Obama's speech to a gathering at the University of Iowa. Bear in mind exactly what he said.
Obama claims he will save the average family $2,500 a year in medical costs by "Providing affordable, comprehensive and portable health coverage for every American"; "Modernizing the U.S. health care system to contain spiraling health care costs and improve the quality of patient care"; and "Promoting prevention and strengthening public health, to prevent disease and protect against natural and man-made disasters."
That is all well and good if the "change" had substance to it. Providing "affordable, comprehensive and portable health coverage for every American" involves a host of different steps in the bureaucracy of Obama-Care. Obama will "establish a new public insurance program, available to Americans who neither qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP nor have access to insurance through their employers, as well as to small businesses that want to offer insurance to their employees." An Obama government will dabble into the health insurance market to cover people regardless of "illness or pre-existing conditions". A noble cause indeed, but one of two things will happen because of this: insurance premiums through Obama-Care Inc., a new federal government-owned healthcare corporation, will be sky-high to cover for these people or it will amount to little more than an increase in scope for Medicaid and SCHIP to include people with pre-existing conditions. Whichever option Obama-care ultimately takes, either the quality of care will fall in order to provide the care at a competitive cost or costs will simply further spiral out of control, with the burden falling on the tax payer. Still no word on how this will save $2,500 per year.
Yet there is more. Obama will "require all employers to contribute towards health coverage for their employees or towards the cost of the public plan." Obama expands, "employers that do not offer meaningful coverage or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees will be required to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of the national plan." As Obama noted in his speech at the University of Iowa, some companies simply cannot afford to offer health coverage to their employees. Here he is making the situation worse. If these companies are forced to pay into a big pot to cover everyone, you can guarantee that salaries will have to fall as a result. That's the upside. The downside is that jobs may have to go. It is in essence a corporate stealth tax; in today's current economic conditions, higher taxes are the last thing companies can cope with and still prosper. This corporate healthcare stealth tax will be in addition to the United States already having the second-highest corporate tax rate in the world – something Obama has derided McCain for promising to cut. Again, still no word on how this will save $2,500 per year. If anything it will cost the taxpayer, not save them money, and it will cost jobs.
The next piece in the Obama-care jigsaw is a "mandate [that] all children have health care coverage; expand eligibility for the Medicaid and SCHIP programs." So essentially government programs will provide universal healthcare for "children", some of whom, if the Democrats have their way (link about expanding SCHIP), will be 25 years old. This makes a mockery of Obama stating that his healthcare plan does not amount to government-controlled universal healthcare. For "children" up to age 25 and as part of families earning up to 400% more than the poverty line it certainly will. As with the previous elements of Obama-Care, two things will arise out of this plan; government funding will have to increase to cover the increasing scope of Medicaid and SCHIP or, to keep costs under control, standards of care will fall considerably – essentially the same result as Obama-Care Inc. being a healthcare insurance provider. One has to wonder, however, what the penalties will be if children are without healthcare coverage, breaching Obama's "mandate". Will parents face fines? Imprisonment? Obama states that he will "expand the number of options for young adults to get coverage" but what if the young people would prefer to save money on the bet that they won't fall ill rather than spend it on healthcare coverage? How wide-reaching will the Obama-Care mandate reach? It causes one to worry. No evidence of helping families save $2,500 per year though.
Despite the gloom, Obama-Care does promote a laudable step forward in cutting costs. "Barack Obama and Joe Biden will invest $10 billion a year over the next five years to move the U.S. health care system to broad adoption of standards-based electronic health information systems, including electronic health records." This, the Obama healthcare plan states, could lead to "up to $77 billion of savings each year" according to "a study by the Rand Corporation found." So with savings of $77 billion, coupled with an expense of $10 billion per year, that's a real saving of $67 billion each year. That amounts to $233 per year per American. Another $2,267 worth of savings to come. But that's if we believe Obama's figures. Afterall, the Rand report states, "we estimated that the potential savings from a reduction in maintenance of medical records are $2.5 billion, corresponding to mean yearly savings of $1.3 billion and cumulative savings over 15 years of $19.9 billion." So instead of $77 billion of savings each year, it seems as though the Rand coporation actually said something closer to $20 billion over 15 years. Someone is being "liberal" with the truth.
In a further bid to reduce costs, Obama-Care aims to increase competition: "Barack Obama and Joe Biden will prevent companies from abusing their monopoly power through unjustified price increases." How they plan on doing this, no word so far. More talk of change without the substance. The only competition that will arise out of Obama-Care is the government-run Obama-Care Inc. that will provide insurance to Americans regardless of pre-existing illnesses and as yet, without any mention of what the premiums or co-pays will be. On drug re-importation, "Barack Obama and Joe Biden will allow Americans to buy their medicines from other developed countries if the drugs are safe and prices are lower outside the U.S." Obama has not put a figure on the potential savings, but regulation to ensure the drugs are safe will come at a cost. Obama also wants to prevent drug companies from blocking generic drugs from coming onto the market and will ensure that Medicaid and Medicare increase their use of generics. It can be argued that this will be the first step in reducing the quality of government-run healthcare.
On Medicare, Obama states, "Medicare's private plan alternative, called Medicare Advantage, was established to increase competition and reduce costs. But independent reports show that on average the government pays 12 percent more than it costs to treat comparable beneficiaries through traditional Medicare." So while Obama promises to eliminate Medicare Advantage, he plans to increase bureaucracy through increasing the scope of SCHIP, Medicaid and implementing a government-run healthcare corporation. Healthcare hypocrisy.
One of the biggest criticisms of increasing healthcare costs are the mandates that each state imposes on healthcare plans. This results in millions of families paying to cover themselves for programs that they will simply never use. While free annual cancer-screening could well be a good step forward in preventative care, Obama says that "individuals and families must have access to essential clinical preventive services such as smoking cessation programs, and the Obama-Biden health plan will require coverage of such services in all federally supported health plans, including Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP and the new public plan." So, for people that think cheap healthcare is going to be available from Obama-Care Inc. think again. Not only has Obama not stated how much Obama-Care Inc. Insurance is going to cost you, it's a safe bet that it will not be cheap, especially when you're paying for a smoking cessation program that you are not going to use if you do not even smoke.
"You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig", Obama told us recently. Lipstick is not going to make US healthcare anymore attractive, especially with a lot of talk and very little walk. Obama-Care will create a new corporation that will provide health insurance, it will be run by the government and everyone will be eligible. No word on how much this will cost taxpayers or insurance recipients, one thing you can guarantee is that Obama-Care Inc. insurance will still be dogged by higher premiums due to mandates that cover for programs that simply will not be used by many. Employers will be forced to offer healthcare to employees or contribute an as-yet undefined amount of money to the "central pot" for Obama-Care Inc., the new government healthcare provider Obama will establish. An undefined mandate will be laid out to ensure every child will have health insurance. How wide-reaching this mandate will be is so far unclear. On the plus side, electronic healthcare records and billing will lead to some savings if the figures are correct and reimportation of cheaper drugs could also lead to some as yet undefined savings. To claim this will improve healthcare coverage and save the average American family $2,500 per year simply has no evidence to back it up. One can't help but wonder if the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd was really talking about Sarah Palin when Dowd wrote, "She had the same flimsy but tenacious adeptness at saying nothing, the same generalities and platitudes, the same restrained resentment at being pressed to be specific, as though specific is the province of silly eggheads". After all, that sounds a lot like Obama and his healthcare plan. Not say expensive too.