Many Americans believe that Obama’s health care reform effort (“Obama Care”) could be one of the worst pieces of legislation ever passed and signed into law. The creators of the legislation never understood the root causes of our ever skyrocketing health care costs. Without an understanding of the underlying problems, there is virtually no chance of developing and implementing a coherent and effective solution.
Before looking at the latest nonsense to come out about the law, let’s reviews what some experts have said in the past:
– In a March 1, 2010 article in Fortune magazine, an interview of Dr. Delose Cosgrove, CEO of the renowned Cleveland Clinic, revealed the following knowledge, from a leading expert in healthcare:
* Obesity accounts for at least 10% of the health care costs in the United States.
* Smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise accounts for 40% of the premature deaths in this country.
* These same factors account for the 70% of the health care costs associated with chronic diseases such as heart disease in the United States.
* Smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise account for 75% of the nation’s total health care costs.
Thus, according to an expert’s view, the root causes driving our high health care costs are public health related questions: diet, exercise and smoking. Rather than attack these true causes of high costs with a public health care effort, Obama Care basically constructed a massive taxation process and bureaucracy that adds complexity and taxation without solving the underlying causes.
Need more, consider the findings from the National Academy of Sciences, an independent Federal agency:
* The United States spends more on health care per person than any other country in the world.
* Despite the high expenses, life expectancy in the U.S. is less than the life expectancies in many other developed countries.
* Smoking and obesity are the primary factors driving the lower life expectancy, and likely higher health care costs, in this country.
More of the same. Rather than address the cause, Obama Care tries to solve the problem administratively.
But the latest research paints an even worse picture. Remember, one of the primary avowed objectives of Obama Care was to reduce the number of uninsured Americans in the United States, estimated to be between 30 and 40 million Americans. However, if you consider the following expert analyses, the legislation will fall far short of this objective also.
According to a recent study by the McKinsey Consulting Group, as published in their publication, McKinsey Quarterly, 30% of the American companies surveyed by McKinsey said they would drop their employee health care plans because under Obama Care, it is a better business decision to not carry a health care insurance program and pay the small fine than it is to continue operating a health care insurance program.
The companies in the McKinsey survey’s 30% said that even if they raised wages to compensate for dropping their healthcare plan, it would still be less expensive for the companies under Obama Care.
Mr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin is an economist and the former director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). He is obviously someone with some valid credentials to examine Obama Care. He did so in a recent analysis and report that was published by the American Action Forum. His results and findings are damning to the legislation:
* According to his analysis, Obama Care “is fiscally dangerous, raising the risk of higher labor (and other) taxes at a time when the job market is struggling.”
* The legislation’s weak fine system provides a strong incentive for companies to stop offering their employees and retirees health care insurance coverage.
* This could result in 35 million Americans, who are covered by employer provided health care insurance, being left without health care insurance.
* The Congressional Budget Office estimated, badly, that only 3 million individuals who previously received coverage through their employers will get subsidized coverage through the Obama Care insurance exchanges. Thus, they are off a factor of twelve in their forecast.
* By tossing 35 million more Americans into the uninsured pool, Federal subsidies will increase by over a TRILLION dollars in ten years, wiping out any perceived or touted savings Obama Care was supposed to bring to the national debt.
* Obama Care will have the greatest impact from a marginal tax rate perspective on the lowest earning workers in the country.
* The analysis reviewed individual company feelings towards Obama Care, noting that Caterpillar is on record of saying that Obama Care would reduce their employee health care costs by 70% if they dropped their employee and retiree insurance programs. AT&T has said it’s annual health care insurance costs would drop from $2.4 billion to only $600 million since it would be far less expensive to drop their insurance program and pay the fine for not having one.
Great, a piece of legislation that is supposed to reduce the number of Americans without health care insurance will likely increase the number of Americans without health care insurance by tens of millions of people. These analyses were not done by Republicans or Tea Party advocates. McKinsey is a highly respected corporate consulting firm with a long history of high powered analysis and Mr. Holtz-Eakin has the experience and education to back up his work.
Let’s look at the numbers a slightly different way. Obama Care advocates claimed that upwards of 40 million Americans did not have health care insurance. But there are subsets within that 40 million. Some more affluent people could afford to buy insurance but decided not to since they feel they could cover health care costs with out of pocket cash as the need arose. Some of the 40 million were found to be sons and daughters of the more affluent and knew that their parents could pay for their health care expenses. Some of the 40 million were older Americans who had not yet gotten around to signing up for Medicare.
Thus, even if you buy the 40 million number, the actual, truly needy Americans who did not have health care insurance, was substantially below 40 million, let’s conservatively say it was 35 million. 35 million Americans out of a total population of of 311 million Americans is about 11%. Thus, in order to fix the problem for 11% of the population, we changed the world for upwards of 89% of Americans.
But wait! Out of the 89%, Obama Care is likely to result in another 35 million Americans losing their health care coverage. Ridiculous and nonsensical. How can anyone say this is good legislation?
Want more? According to the statistics in this past Sunday’s St. Petersburg Times, there is another set of numbers out that show how stupid Obama Care is. The numbers were within a St. Petersburg Times article on how companies are trying to get their employees involved in exercise and other healthy activities.
The statistics from the article claim that 15% of the population drives 85% of the nation’s health care costs, 5% of the population drives 60% of the cost, and 25% of the population have no healthcare costs. Would it not have been a better strategy to focus on these small groups of Americans that cause the vast majority of health care costs and fix their problems rather than upsetting the entire health care system in the country? Nonsense again.
How simple could it be? Address the underlying drivers of high health care costs: obesity, bad diets, smoking, and lack of exercise. Understand who is the primary drivers of health care costs and resources and fix their problems. Instead, we get a cumbersome, complex, expensive, and incoherent 2,500 page piece of legislation that addresses none of the underlying problems while destroying health care insurance for tens of millions.
Which brings us to the the other two topics in our title, ignorance and lying. President Obama stated over and over that Americans who currently had health care insurance through their company could keep it under Obama Care. Was he that ignorant of reality to understand that if a company could save millions or billions of dollars by dropping health insurance that they would do so? Who came up with the measly fines that companies would pay if they dropped health care insurance? Could he and Pelsoi and Reid have been that ignorant of simple business principles?
Or was he lying? Did he actually understand that by passing Obama Care, tens of millions of Americans workers would lose health care insurance but lied about the likely outcome in order to get the legislation passed? Nonsense, lying or ignorant, hardly traits we would want in the President of the United States.
Much like the lost war on drugs, failing public education, the lack of an energy program, the lack of an immigration policy, and a myriad of other problems that have been unsolved for decades, the lack of problem solving skills of the American political class are on constant display. That is why we need to take steps to fix our political processes so that we finally staff Washington with people that know how to define and solve problems.
Like the brilliant Dean Wormer quote from the movie Animal House, “Fat, drunk, and and stupid is no way to go through life,” I am getting tired of living the political class equivalent: “Ignorant, lying, and nonsensical is no way to run a country.”