When it comes to how we are insured for our health, there are basically three markets: government (Medicaid, Medicare), the employer market, and the individual market. Most Americans are insured either through the government or through their employer. The individual market is where everyone else purchases health insurance, and does so on their own. And this is the market most affected (and decimated) by ObamaCare.
On and off, throughout the last 15 years, it has been through the individual market that I have purchased my own health coverage. This means that I am quite familiar with the damage ObamaCare has done to those stuck in this market, most of whom are not poor enough for Medicaid — which means they come from the working and middle class. Boiled down, ObamaCare has become a cruel tax on working people, who are now forced by their government to pay an enormous sum of money for what is now a nearly useless product.
Prior to ObamaCare the individual market was far from perfect. You could be denied coverage for any number of reasons, including a pre-existing condition. I was once denied coverage for refusing to take a prescription drug with flu-like side effects.
Even before ObamaCare, one of the individual market’s biggest setbacks was a lack of competition. Because our government is corrupt, insurers were and are still not allowed to sell their product across state lines (Trump wants to remedy this, God bless him). This dramatically shrinks the market to within the individual state, which in turn means less competition for insurers, which in turn means higher prices and an increased amount of dickish corporate behavior.
Nevertheless, despite its wild imperfections, I was always able to purchase coverage at a reasonable price. Other than a bad lower back, for a 50 year-old guy I’m in good health. For this reason, I would always purchase what was called a “catastrophic plan” — a policy with a $6000 to $10,000 deductible for anywhere from $150 to $225 a month.
Catastrophic plans were not just good for me personally, they were good for the entire health care system. What you had were millions of people insured in case of a dire health emergency, like a car crash or cancer, but otherwise doing something no one else does: treating the healthcare industry like a free market.
Somewhere around 90% of insured Americans do NOT treat the health care industry like a free market. Because someone else is paying for their health services (an insurance company), no one prices anything. Therefore, unlike every other product and service in America, health care providers are not under any pressure from customers when it comes to cost.
The perfect example of this is to look at the respective cost curves of medical procedures that are and are not covered by insurance. It is no secret that overall health care costs have exploded, and done so well ahead of inflation (this is another broken ObamaCare promise). And yet, like plasma televisions and Bluray players, the cost of medical procedures not covered by insurance, like Lasik and plastic surgeries, have decreased. I can also tell you from personal experience that eye exams and glasses are much cheaper than they used to be. My annual flu shot, which is now available at the local CVS or Walgreens, is a mere $25, or about 1/10th of what a doctor visit for a flu shot would cost your insurance company.
Once you are outside of the insurance market, you also discover that even insured services are cheaper. Since I now pay everything out of pocket, everything is cheaper. My doctors charge much less for visits and my prescriptions are actually cheaper than what my co-pay cost when I was insured. I once called around pricing an MRI, something an insured person would never do, and the prices ranged from $2500 to $400. Guess who got my business.
At the risk of putting too fine a point on this, imagine the cost of a brake job or oil change if we insured our car repairs like we do our health. The whole idea of health insurance, outside of a catastrophic illness, is not only stupid, it’s exploding costs.
And what did ObamaCare do? It outlawed these wonderful catastrophic plans. I’m not sure how such an act is Constitutional in a free country, but that’s for another column. What I do know is that rather than enjoying access to tailor-made insurance plans, every American is now required to purchase a comprehensive plan. Under ObamaCare, although I am a 50 year-old male, I must pay for pre-natal care, maternity care, etc.
The best comparison to drive home how absurdly ridiculous this is, is to have you imagine the government passing a law that requires everyone to purchase, not just a car, but a Cadillac.
Now that the backfill is complete, let me explain my headline. Here is how ObamaCare is nothing more than a cruel tax on the working and middle class.
Tax #1 – Health care costs have increased dramatically for everyone
Thanks to the failure of ObamaCare, the cost of everyone’s healthcare is exploding. Everyone. Not just those in the individual market. If you recall, President LiarMcFailure and his fact-checking media promised us health care costs would decrease by $2500 a year under ObamaCare. The reality is that, in many cases, costs have actually increased by that much. That’s a tax.
ObamaCare defenders will argue that costs were increasing prior to ObamaCare, which is true. But not by this much.
Tax #2 – ObamaCare premium explosion
Even before the newest rate increases of around 20% go into effect next year, the cost of my monthly premiums more than doubled to $450 a month. What’s especially maddening is that the deductible is still an obnoxiously high $4000 – $5000.
What this means, essentially, is that I’m paying for a Cadillac health insurance plan that I’ll never use.
That’s a tax — a huge tax, a massive tax.
Granted, I never used the catastrophic plan, but that premium was much lower and I was not mandated by our corrupt government to purchase it.
ObamaCare defenders will argue that, thanks to government subsidies, many ObamaCare recipients won’t pay a price increase. So what? Taxpayers still have to pay for the subsidy.
Tax #3 – You’re paying more for an increasingly awful service
Even with that obnoxious restriction that wouldn’t allow insurance companies to sell across state lines, each state still had a number of companies to choose from. But now that ObamaCare is decimating the individual marketplace, insurance companies are fleeing the individual market, which means that companies you once could purchase insurance from prior to ObamCare, you no longer can. The government has chased them completely out of business.
In most every state, the number of providers is shrinking, your choices as a consumer are decreasing by the year. In the entire state of New Jersey, you have only two insurance companies to choose from.
Tax #4 – The ObamaCare penalty
You’re a freeborn American. You look at the choices offered by ObamaCare. You decide that paying $5000 a year for a lousy policy you will never use is madness. You choose not to purchase health insurance and instead choose to pay out of your own pocket for whatever medical needs you and your family might need.
That choice is now outlawed.
If you make that choice, you will be taxed 2.5% of your annual income.
Tax #5 – The deficit
The ObamaCare boondoggle is costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year in deficit spending. Because the Boomers and their spawn are too selfish to live within their means, their bill will be paid for by our children and grandchildren.
That’s a tax.
Fewer choices. A worse product. Double the cost.
Those of us opposed to ObamaCare warned of this in advance, and for our trouble the mainstream media labeled us racist.
P.S. I eventually found coverage through this co-op.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC