Critical Condition

NRO’s health-care blog.

The Real Three Things Obamacare Would Change


In his remarks today, President Obama said that his proposed health-care overhaul “would change three things about the current health system”: It would (1) rein in insurers; (2) establish a “new marketplace” for health insurance; and (3) cut health costs.    The first two go hand-in-hand and should be discussed together. Having the federal government create a “new marketplace” for health insurance is exactly what it sounds like: federal control over health insurance and thus (by dictating the reach and limits of coverage) over health care. A private marketplace that has been built up piece by piece by private insurers and individual Americans, within certain boundaries limited by law, would be replaced by one set up by Washington, run by Washington, and featuring (only) product lines designed by Washington. And unlike private markets of any sort, where people shop for value and decide for themselves whether they want to buy anything or not, no one would be allowed to leave this market without making a purchase.    The third is manifestly false. Between them, the CBO and the Medicare chief actuary have stated quite plainly that insurance premiums and overall health costs would both rise faster under Obamacare than under current law; that Obamacare would raise the cost-curve up. The fact that the president insists on disingenuously denying this should severely hurt his credibility, and it’s further evidence of the politicizing of health care that would be the norm under his agenda. The only significantly lowered costs under Obamacare would be for those whose health insurance would henceforth largely be paid for by other Americans through huge tax increases, deep Medicare cuts, and increased deficit spending. That, of course, would not constitute a genuine decrease in costs, but a redistribution of income.   In reality, here are the three main things that Obamacare would change about the current health system:  One, it would reduce freedom. Two, it would raise costs. Three, it would ultimately reduce costs in the only way that a government-controlled system can: by rationing care.   If I might also list a fourth thing that Obamacare would change, it would be this: It would destroy the path to real reform.


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