Friday, September 11, 2009
If you don’t want to be called a liar...
In his 9 September address to the joint session of Congress, President Obama said that if anyone misrepresents what is in the health care reform proposals, they should be called on it. We here at Unforeseen Contingencies want to do our part to help the President, and so we are going to expose one of the biggest lies anyone has circulated about the President’s reform efforts:
"[I]f you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Let me repeat this: Nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have."
It's a lie! This misrepresentation of the President’s plan must stop! The scoundrel who keeps repeating this falsehood is, uh, er, umm... President Barack Obama himself, of course.
Now he's probably right that there won’t be a formal provision saying that people with insurance will be required to give up their current plans. But in the very next paragraph of his address, he insisted on two proposals that will, if enacted, either increase the prices of private insurance plans, or eliminate them outright, depending on the magnitudes involved:
"Under this plan, it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a preexisting condition."
"[Insurers] will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or in a lifetime."
These two provisions alone would be sufficient to destroy private insurance. The first provision effectively mandates adverse selection. If insurers cannot differentiate between lower and higher risk buyers, the average risk in the pool rises, and so do premiums. If insurers are required to "insure" people with pre-existing conditions, and at the same rates paid by people who are in good health, everyone's premiums will rise. Those healthy people who currently can just afford private insurance would find themselves unable to afford the new higher premiums and be forced from the insurance pool, further raising the average level of risk, and thus premiums. Surely this would lead opponents of private insurance to cry "see, the market is failing!" If there's a trigger for a "public" (i.e. socialized) option, this would pull it.
The second provision would remove any limit on the amount of coverage one could receive. This one is so crazy I almost wonder if Obama even meant to say it. Mr. President, do you really mean to say that any health insurance ought to provide unlimited coverage? That there'd be no limit or cap at all to amount one could collect? Insurers on the hook for effectively unlimited payouts? As many visits to the doctor as one likes? For any reason? Heaven help us! Even if insurers were willing to offer such coverage, and at a price any of us could afford, this provision would eliminate the few incentives we insureds now have to hold down our consumption to reasonable levels.
For all his attempts to sound thoughtful, reasonable, and willing to compromise, Barack Obama is proposing policies - insisting on policies - that would eventually destroy private health insurance, and he knows it. It’s a dishonest route to a socialized single payer national health care system. (Do you think there'll be no "arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or in a lifetime" under a nationalized system?)
It pains me to say it, Mr. President, but... you lie.