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Obamacare’s expansion means less, not more healthcare

Since Obamacare became law, patients have seen their health insurance choices disappear.  There are fewer insurers selling fewer plans with narrower networks than ever before.  And now Obamacare’s architects want to snuff out the few remaining private options and replace them with government rationing and substandard healthcare. 

President Barrack Obama recently wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association that Congress should expand the powers of his healthcare law and create a government-run insurer. This “public option” would “compete alongside private insurers in areas of the country where competition is limited.”

The theory behind Obama’s public option expansion goes as follows: The marketplace for health insurance is dominated by just a few insurers that continuously raise patient premiums. His solution is to create a public health insurer that will keep private insurers in check by selling low cost insurance. This theory is pure fantasy.

While patients are seeing their health insurance options disappear, patients have fewer choices because of Obamacare. When the healthcare law took full effect in 2013, there were 21 health insurers serving Wyoming’s individual market.  Yet by 2016, just one insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, remains in business.  

The public option will drive the remaining insurers out of the market.  Unlike private insurers that have to price their premiums to cover their member’s medical bills, the public option can reduce premiums as low as possible since taxpayers will cover its losses. Over time, these artificially low premiums will draw more patients out of private insurance and onto the public option’s rolls, making it impossible for private insurers to remain in business.

Once the public option dominates the health insurance market, it can set hospital reimbursements as low as it wants.  Doctors and hospitals would ultimately have to cope with the government’s low reimbursements by providing less healthcare to patients. This is called rationing and is ubiquitous in government-run single-payer systems in Canada and Europe. Patients in single-payer countries regularly wait months for critical procedures.  And when patients finally enter a hospital, their care is often shoddy and even dangerous. An internal audit of Britain’s National Health Service discovered that 13,000 patients died unnecessarily since 2005 from “poor care, medical errors and failures of management” inherent in government-run healthcare systems.

These horrifying statistics are common in the world of socialized medicine.  A report by the Fraser Institute estimates that as many as 44,273 Canadian women died prematurely between 1993 and 2009 as a result of lengthy wait times in their single-payer system, saying:

“This estimated increase in the Canadian mortality rate associated with waiting for medical treatment was unnecessary and is the result of a health policy regime that imposes longer wait times on Canadians than are found in the universal access healthcare systems of other developed nations.”

Americans can also look to home-grown healthcare programs as a cautionary lesson. Over the years, states have cut Medicaid’s reimbursements so low that doctors regularly force enrollees to wait extended periods for essential healthcare.  Medicaid patients in Boston on average wait ten weeks for dermatology appointments. Portland patients wait nineteen weeks for obstetricians.   And patients in Minneapolis can wait up to nine months before they see a family physician.

By the time Medicaid patients finally see a doctor, they’re often too sick to save. One study by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found women on Medicaid are three times more likely to die from breast cancer than other patients.  Another study by the University of Pittsburgh concluded that Medicaid patients are three times more likely to have advanced stage throat cancer when they’re diagnosed. Obama’s public option would impose the same substandard healthcare across our entire healthcare system.

President Obama wants you to believe that growing the federal government’s power will expand our healthcare options. This is the exact same promise he made when he campaigned for Obamacare.    Reality shows that government-run healthcare leads to longer wait times, fewer choices, and worse outcomes for patients.

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Sunday, 28 May 2017
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