Monday, March 22, 2010

Obamacare. Oh No

Show me a young conservative, and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains. Winston Churchill

Well, folks, it looks like Obama has validated the latter half of the statement once and for all. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that our country's lawmakers just passed a hallmark bill on health care reform, one that's bound to plunge us further into bankruptcy, strain our path to economic recovery, discourage our lower to middle classes from pursuing financial prosperity, and ultimately, deteriorate the quality of care its supposedly extending to the 32 million uninsured people in this country.

Now I'm not a politico by any stretch of the imagination, and frankly, I'm unlikely to feel the affects of this legislation in the short term, but in looking past my immediate interests, it's clear we're headed for the worst. Let's face it - when you put the government in charge of running public interests of this magnitude, it spells disaster. I grew up within the military health care system, where bureaucratic processes and inefficiencies eventually led me to seek private care. It's not fun, it's not tolerable, and I can't imagine extending such a system for the greater good.

Here's the deal - over the next few years, Obama will be widening Medicaid eligibility and increasing tax credits to help others participate in public insurance exchanges. If you don't have insurance, then you better hop on board here or buy a private plan. Otherwise, you'll be fined. Sounds ok, right? Unfortunately, this isn't free.

Forget how much more we're going to have to borrow to make this a reality (thus putting us further at the mercy of foreign banks, weakening the dollar, and stimying economic growth domestically). Funding for these new programs will come out of the pockets of people like you and I - maybe not right now, but at some point in the foreseeable future when my hard-earned income level meets some minimum threshold requiring me to pay more than what's currently in law. In short, we're going to get the shit taxed out of us. Higher capital gains taxes, higher medicare payroll taxes, even our own health care BENEFITS are slated to get taxed. At least McCain had the cojones to state this last point up front in his campaign for the presidency.

More Medicaid and government sponsored options also means lower reimbursement rates for the docs tending to their participants. Without getting into the age-old argument of care cost vs. quality, the fact is that money talks, even in this setting. Naturally, when the best docs see their paychecks go down, they'll set up shop outside of the hospital setting, privatize their businesses, and seek partnership with private insurers, leaving the public system with its pants down. But it's ok because as long as everyone's insured, it won't matter that their treatment sucks a fat one. And you thought your ER wait times were long now...

I could go on, but I'll stop there. As much as I agree with some of the quick-fix policies in this bill (i.e. barring insurers from denying coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions), we need to keep the big picture in mind and understand the broader ramifications of Obamacare before we let our indignant, young adult energy make up our minds for us.

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