Since 1986, in the US, it has been illegal to deny emergency medical treatment to any patient regardless of their ability to pay. For people and families of low income, payment should be covered by medicaid or medicare, but millions of people (of every income level) remained without coverage anyway. This means millions of patients get treated at the ER every year, having no ability to pay. The cost is absorbed by the hospital and folded into standard operating overhead, and those costs get passed along to other patients, in the form of inflating all the prices of all the medical equipment, procedures, drugs, etc. This drives up prices in the competitive market, and the end result is all the prices are inflated, not just at hospitals.
There are only two ways to solve this problem. Either repeal the 1986 law, and deny treatment to emergency patients who lack proof of ability to pay. (A common practice in poorer countries, ask me how I know.) Or mandate that everybody shall be insured. Sure, some people will illegally remain uninsured, but the overall risk will be greatly reduced, as most people will comply with the law and get insurance. Side note: There exist lots of other laws, which result in general damage to society if disobeyed.
Here in Massachusetts, we have had mandated automotive liability insurance, and mandated health insurance, for a long time. At inception, insurance companies were opposed to being legally required to insure people with pre-existing conditions, and simply determined, they would make the premiums cost prohibitive for those individuals. So the state government for a long time, dictated the premiums that the insurance companies were permitted to charge. Some insurance companies refused to operate in Mass (for years, it was a tease, to see Geico commercials broadcast here, up from Connecticut, although Geico did not offer coverage to Mass residents.) The state dictated premiums turned out to be a bad idea, because it eliminates the free market and puts the control of the industry into the hands of sometimes corrupt, or simply error prone beaurocrats and lobbyists. We ended up paying a little more, for insurance that was a little worse, than the national average.
Obamacare has obviously learned a few tricks by observation of Romneycare. Instead of dictating premiums, they simply create a competing government insurance option. Use the free market competition to set prices. They make it illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage or unfairly discriminate against pre-existing conditions. By operating as a competing alternative, they will have a trustworthy source of data and statistics, to prevent the commercial insurance companies from misreporting or manipulating (or outright falsifying) figures to demonstrate inflated costs of treatment for those people.
The end result will be to drive overall health care costs down. This means patients and consumers benefit, while big pharma and big insurance make less money. The rich guys who own those businesses (or heavily invested) are opposed to Obamacare, and do such things as advertise a big creepy Uncle Sam puppets finger-raping people in the doctor’s office. They pay for huge advertisement campaigns telling people to “opt out” of mandatory insurance. But I promise they will not help you pay your bills or get treatment if you do opt out and later discover you have bills to pay.
They are not actually scared that Uncle Sam puppets will rape people. They are scared that people will like the program. (Side note: In New Hampshire, we have a government liquor store competing alternative, and it’s very popular, and draws people into NH from neighboring states.) They’re scared Obamacare will be successful in driving costs down, and then they’ll make less money, and they’ll also be exposed for being so dramatically wrong in their predictions to the American people of what the outcome of Obamacare would be, and lose votes in the next election. They’re so scared of it, that they hold the entire national (and to some extent world) economy for ransom, demanding to strip Obamacare or shutdown the government or default on national debt. And then blame it all on somebody else.
Please see the Daily Show’s segment on Boehner, “Don’t fart and blame it on the dog.” Skip the first minute if you like, as it’s not related:
Obamacare was a central issue in the last several years’ elections. It was challenged, and subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court. It is my personal opinion that opponents of Obamacare should not threaten the national economy, and instead, try to win some elections if they want to repeal or change the law. I don’t believe the present GOP actions are helping the GOP win future elections.
Last Saturday, Oct 5 2013, Congress unanimously voted to guarantee furloughed government employees backpay once the government reopens. This means right now, and for an unknown period into the future, government employees are getting free vacation. (Forced vacation.) They’re getting paid, they want to work, but they’re prohibited from working. That is the worst kind of handout, my friends.
Citizens are left paying the full bill, with none of the benefits of having facilities functional. Thanks to the GOP in the house.
I am in favor of paying those furloughed employees backpay, just because it’s better than not paying them. But as long as we’re going to pay them anyway, I sure wish the GOP would permit them to work.