According to the Republicans in Congress and our beloved leader and his administration we will all be better off with our health coverage because they will let the “free market” be the driver for our coverage. The problem is they are selling a myth.
Do you know just how many “free market” insurance systems are out there? Do you know how many of them are actually working and keeping the costs down? The answer to both questions is zero. There are no “free market” insurance systems in existence anywhere in the world.
There is a reason for that. The simple reason is that a “free market” system just won’t work to cover everyone. The simple fact is that if you believe that everyone deserves access to inexpensive health care coverage, the free market is incapable of providing it.
The Republicans claim that their “free market” insurance system will be different. They claim it will work, and they offer a lot of examples as to why it will work. And, their arguments are all over the board.
For one, Ryan claims that the free market is the only way to go because “then a healthy young person won’t have to pay for the insurance of a sick older person”. He basically doesn’t understand how insurance works. Or more importantly, he doesn’t care how insurance works as long as his words sound good.
We all know that the only way to keep costs down for everyone is to have everyone purchase insurance. That way, the younger healthy people get insurance and the costs they pay help keep down the costs for older people. Then, when the healthy younger person becomes older and sicker, they also get lower costs from the younger healthy young people.
That is the only way that insurance can work. Without the healthy young people in the insurance market, the insurance companies cannot afford to protect the older people who may have more coverage needs. This is the same formula for car insurance also.
One of the main reasons that states require you to have car insurance is to help keep the costs down because safe drivers help pay for poor drivers. That is a simple fact of life.
Another argument for this so-called repeal and replace from Republicans is that it “doesn’t matter how many people have coverage, but rather how many have access to their doctors”. That is a perfect example of double-talk. Everyone who has been without health coverage knows that you don’t have access to any doctor unless you have health insurance.
The costs of just seeing a doctor are astronomical for anyone without insurance. Then, we have the case that hospitals are required by law to treat uninsured people who enter the emergency room. Only, when they can’t pay for those services, the rest of us pay for it through higher health insurance premiums. And, if the hospital has too many patients that cannot pay, they lose money and shut their doors.
Additionally they claim that young people who want to should be able to just purchase “catastrophic” insurance. That means they will not have access to health care by visiting a doctor. Preventative health care is not part of catastrophic insurance, only hospital stays.
Republicans also say that the reason that insurance premiums are so high is because they cannot sell insurance across state lines. That is lie. There is nothing to keep insurance companies from selling across lines right now. Except, they must be in line with each states regulations regarding health insurance.
If they are going to pass laws that supersede state laws, aren’t they violating their highly touted “states rights” argument? Wouldn’t they be interfering with each states’ right to determine health insurance requirements for their citizens?
Finally, you have the very real problem of people with pre-existing conditions. Both Republicans and the administration says they won’t lose their health care. They are going to be protected. But how? If young healthy people don’t have to purchase insurance, how can health insurance companies afford to cover those with pre-existing conditions.
The Republican idea is that they will be placed in high risk pools. That on top of the plan to charge older people up to five times as much as they charge younger people. If you place pre-existing condition people in high risk pools, the costs of their premiums will explode. That isn’t making insurance cheaper, it is making it more expensive.
Republicans claim that the “free market” is the way to go. By using the free market, they claim that premiums will go down and everyone will be able to afford health insurance. That is a total fantasy.
We have seen the same “free market” and “more competition” argument used in other areas that was supposed to keep prices down. The result was just the opposite. When companies are given a free hand, they reduce their competition by merging with it. Then, when they cut the competition down, they raise rates even higher.
We have seen it with phone companies, cable companies, and even health companies. Remember the only reason that Aetna pulled out of the exchanges is because the government denied it permission to merge with Cigna. The government said it would reduce competition and cause prices to go up.
Aetna threw a hissy fit and pulled out of the exchanges to “punish” the government. That is the only reason they pulled out, not because they were losing money. That is what the “free market” gives us.
Before the ACA was implemented, we probably had the closest thing to “free market” insurance in the world. And, costs were high, and going up, and about 40 million people had no coverage. Plus, hospitals in rural areas were shutting their doors at such an alarming rate that many areas of the country don’t have a hospital within 200 miles of people.
On the other hand, countries that have a one-payer system pay less for health costs. We pay twice as much in health care costs than people in a single-payer system. Why? Because under such a system, everyone has health insurance. The covered pool is much larger, and it makes it cheaper for everyone.
And, don’t swallow the lie that everyone in those countries are trying to get here for better coverage. They aren’t. I know a lot of Canadians for example, and none of them are willing to come here because of our “wonderful” health care coverage. They are perfectly happy with their health coverage.
Additionally, people who live under single-payer coverage live longer than we do. Their life expectancy is higher than our life expectancy. That is because they have proper health coverage that helps prevent problems and/or catch serious problems earlier allowing proper treatment before it is too late.
It doesn’t matter if you are talking about health insurance or anything else. The free market scheme simply does not work the way Republicans want you to think it does. A total free market takes away all regulations that keep companies in line and keep them from forming monopolies that will hurt the consumers. That is why we have anti-monopoly laws. That is why we have laws regulating the financial markets and banking markets.
The old Robber Barons of the late 19th century and the early 20th century were able to create monopolies to make themselves rich. Only, they didn’t take the rest of us along by raising wages or lowering prices. The opposite happened. They cut wages and raised prices.
That is what the Republicans want to happen to our health care insurance. They want to let the insurance companies loose to do as they see fit. If you lose your coverage, Republicans just don’t care. If your premiums go way up, they simply don’t care.
The Americans Without Health Insurance Act is simply a tax cut for the rich and corporations. The ACA relied on these taxes to pay for the health coverage of poor people and used these taxes to pay for the subsidies you may get. Republicans want to eliminate those taxes so only the rich and health care companies see the positive results.
Ryan was even bragging on television the other day that he was cutting Medicaid massively with the biggest cuts in history. How is that allowing poor people to have health insurance? It doesn’t, it takes it away. And, Paul Ryan is perfectly fine with that fact.
There is a huge difference between capitalism and a free market. Capitalism works well, as it has in this country, but only if there are reins on it to keep it from going wild. The free market on the other hand has no reins on it and they go wild to the detriment of everyone who isn’t rich already.
If you have been wondering why there isn’t a single “free market” health insurance system in the entire world, the answer is simple. It won’t work! Republicans know this simple fact, too. That is why they want to keep “tax subsidies” in their plan to make you think they are helping. That is why they want to keep pre-existing conditions covered. They know that the “free market” system they are touting won’t work and will leave these people behind.
But, they are going to leave them behind anyway. The poor will lose their health care because Medicaid expansion will be revoked. Those with pre-existing conditions will be left behind because they won’t be able to afford the premiums in those “high risk pools’. Everyone else will be left behind because in the first year, it is estimated that premiums will increase almost $1500. And, by 2020 those premiums will increase another $2400.
In the meantime, companies like Aetna will be allowed to swallow up more and more of their competition and that means less competition not more that Republicans promise. Meaning, premiums will go up even more than expected. Less competition means higher prices.
Have you looked at your cable bill recently? It keeps going up because of the “mergers” of cable companies reducing the competition. That is what Republicans want to do to your health insurance.
The bottom line is that a total “free market” does not exist simply because it cannot work. At least not for the average person. The only way to reduce health care costs is to go to a system like Medicare for all. Otherwise we will take the Republicans word and just piss into the wind as we get sicker and sicker because we can’t afford health insurance.
And, the shirts keep marching along.