The Suspense Is Killing Me

I can’t stand the wait on the Supreme Court to announce its decision on Obamacare.  When it was tried, June seemed like a long way away, and now that June’s here…

It’s my hope, of course, that Obamacare is overturned completely, that the mandate is deemed unconstitutional and the lack of a severability clause invalidates the whole ugly hot mess of a bill.

Are there problems with our healthcare system? Yes. Is the massive, sweeping “reform” of Obamacare going to fix it? No. What we need are narrow, targeted, economically and constitutionally sound solutions. This is not what we’re getting.

But, rather than saying we should do nothing, here’s what I would do.

The state and Federal government should work together on easing restrictions on selling insurance in multiple states. Remove capricious barriers to entry. The states need to be an important part of the work to increase competition and individual coverage options – far more so than the Federal government.

We do have some systemic problems in the health insurance industry. Companies that drop people just because they’ll gotten ill and made claims is at best an unsavory practice, bordering on fraud. (I tend to think this doesn’t happen nearly as often as the Left would have us believe however.) It isn’t fair that someone who loses their insurance may be locked out of the market because they have a pre-existing condition, but neither is it fair for people who’ve never paid a dime for insurance to jump in the pool when they develop an expensive malady. I would suggest tax incentives, not mandates, for insurance companies to accept high risk patients. The incentive should be higher if the customer has been carrying insurance, but lost it. Perhaps a sliding scale based on the proportion of time they’ve been covered in the last 5 years or so. If you’ve been meeting your responsibilities, carrying insurance, and suddenly lose it, the tax incentive for the insurance company would subsidize the additional risk the new carrier would take on, allowing you to buy insurance at rates comparable to what you’ve been paying. The incentives could pay for themselves if a financial penalty is imposed for arbitrarily dropping patients who become ill. But if you have irresponsibly failed to provide insurance for yourself and/or your family, the rest of us should not be on the hook for it. You SHOULD pay more than the rest of us.

We should move to increase portability and decrease the amount of health insurance dependent on employment. The true cost of health insurance is masked by the fact that people do not usually pay for it directly. Just as we’d have a full-fledged revolution if we had to pay our income taxes in a lump sum, if the amount paid for health insurance weren’t mitigated by employers, we’d have seen market forces working to keep premiums down a long time ago. Obamacare takes us in the opposite direction. By continuing to play the shell game to hide the true price of insurance from the ultimate end-users, it negates the market forces that would otherwise work to lower costs and improve the product.

Another way Obamacare works contrary to economic common sense is in the mandate for insurance to eliminate out-of-pocket costs for a wide range of predictable and routine expenditures. We need to return to the concept that insurance should cover risk of the unknown and the unpredictable, not the normal. If our auto insurance was mandated to cover oil changes, so we weren’t responsible for our own car maintenance, we’d probably have $300 oil changes. I don’t think health care is any different. If health care providers had to compete for the dollars of informed consumers, we’d see much greater economy and efficiency in the market. We’ve seen it in the areas of health care that are not covered by insurance, like cosmetic surgery and Lasik. Those procedures haven’t been subject to the astronomical rise we’ve seen in other health care costs.

However, while one can easily get caught up in debating the minutiae of Obamacare, and the wisdom or lack thereof in the provisions contained within, I’d just like to take a step back from that particular monstrosity and review key provisions in a simpler, shorter, and wiser document that few seem to have any familiarity with. The Constitution of the United States.

In Article I, section 8, the powers of Congress are delineated, among them the power to lay and collect taxes, to borrow money on the credit of the US, to regulate foreign commerce, coin money, regulate bankruptcy and immigration, to establish post offices, raise and support a military, declare war, etc. This is but a partial list, but one can clearly see that the founders intended the Federal government to exercise only very specific powers.

This intent was reinforced by the adoption of the 10th Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

While the Constitution is continually and grievously abused, that is no reason to meekly accept more of the same.

There is simply no Constitutional authority, in my opinion, for the Federal government to regulate the health care and insurance industry to the extent Obamacare does.

That is at the core of my opposition to the bill and my hope it is overturned.

That said, something should be done to make health care more affordable and available. But the impetus should come from the individual states. Massachusetts, Oregon, Hawaii – all states that have attempted to “do something” about the problem, with varying degrees of success. I believe that with 50 different laboratories working on the issues we face, we are more likely to come up with something workable that other states will come to emulate. We will have far more input and viewpoints entering into the debate than the narrow lobbyist-driven, Beltway-blindered course Obamacare would lead us down.

Meanwhile, we wait.  The suspense is killing me.

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