Editors’ note: This article has been updated since its initial publication.
One year from today — and perhaps much sooner — Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and other Republican “extremists” will look like heroes. For trying to defund the (un)Affordable Care Act, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid smeared them as “anarchists,” and both liberals and some weak-kneed Republicans have offered their own denunciations. But as the S.S. Obamacare traverses dangerous seas, these brave conservatives will look increasingly like dockhands who begged passengers to avoid a reputedly invincible craft. “Stay off the ship,” they shouted before it embarked. “It’s going to sink!”
While the GOP’s role in this month’s partial federal shutdown has cut its public support, Republicans who stood athwart this program yelling “Stop!” will look prescient as the Obamacare’s staterooms grow sopping wet. Its engine room already is nipple-deep in ice water. Instead of providing powerful pistons to propel the massive liner, Healthcare.gov resembles an outboard motor that wheezes, coughs, and mainly conks out.
“The federal health care exchange was built using 10-year-old technology that may require constant fixes and updates for the next six months and the eventual overhaul of the entire system,” Internet gurus told USA Today’s Kelly Kennedy. Some website-weary consumers have dialed Obamacare’s call center at 800-318-2596. (Believe it or not, this spells 800-F1U-CKYO). This, in turn, redirects people to Healthcare.gov.
Dogs chase their tails more efficiently than this.
“The administrative-bureaucratic tangle will only become more complex as more people enroll, providers start billing insurers, patients show up in doctors’ offices thinking they have coverage they don’t, and the IRS starts fining Americans for not having insurance,” an October 17 Wall Street Journal editorial predicted.
Consumer Reports advises: “Stay away from HealthCare.gov for at least another month, if you can.”
The gashes in Obamacare’s hull will scream for attention as its maiden journey becomes a voyage of the damned.
• Plenty more Americans will get letters like the one I received Monday:
“Your existing policy will end and be replaced with a new policy and new premium rates upon renewal in 2014,” reads my insurer’s notice. “These changes are required by federal health care reform, called the Affordable Care Act.”
“If you like your health-care plan,” Obama famously promised, “you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan. Period.”
Well, I like my health-care plan, and I am unable to keep my health-care plan. Period.
Cancelled insurance: This is what Obamacare looks like.
And I am not alone.
According to Anna Gorman and Julie Appleby of Kaiser Health News, Pittsburgh’s Highmark insurance and Philadelphia’s Independence Blue Cross are canceling “guaranteed issue” policies, mainly insurance plans belonging to those with pre-existing conditions. In California, Blue Shield ended coverage for 119,000 individuals, and Kaiser Permanente tossed 160,000. Florida Blue terminated 300,000 men and women, or 80 percent of its individual market. The Newark Star-Ledger reports that some 800,000 New Jersey residents recently learned that Obamacare has killed their individual and small-group plans.
“Sixteen million people are now receiving letters from their carriers saying they are losing their current coverage and must re-enroll in order to avoid a break in coverage and comply with the new health law’s benefit mandates –– the vast majority by January 1,” explained Robert Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates. “Most of these will be seeing some pretty big rate increases.”
Nope. Federal diktat. Obamacare mandates that all individual and small-group plans feature “essential health benefits,” including services for substance abuse, mental health, and maternity. Plans lacking such features will be illegal and are being jettisoned.
• Many Americans should expect to pay lots more for coverage.
As the Manhattan Institute recently reported, women in the individual market can anticipate that premiums will soar 62 percent next year. A 99 percent hike awaits men. The Heritage Foundation forecast that non-group premiums will fall in Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island. Virtually everywhere else, however, Americans will suffer. A family of four Texans can expect to pay 29.5 percent more for an average Obamacare plan versus today’s typical coverage. A 50-year old Vermonter will face 61 percent higher premiums, while a Floridian that age will pay 75 percent more. And a 27-year-old Arizonan paying 157 percent extra for Obamacare will cry for a similar Virginian whose coverage will climb 252.5 percent.
For taxpayers, Obamacare’s 10-year cost has ballooned from $900 billion at enactment in March 2010 to $2.6 trillion today. This ever-expanding outlay will swell the national debt, now at $17 trillion and growing.
• Communism flopped, in large part, because it totally misunderstood human nature. As Karl Marx wrote in 1875, once “the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly — only then can . . . society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!” While millions perform charitable work, and saints like Mother Teresa sometimes walk the Earth, most people do not labor around the clock for the common good. Rather, they pursue self-interest — enlightened or otherwise.
Likewise, Obamacare fundamentally misreads human motivation.
As Manhattan Institute scholar Avik Roy, M.D., writes in Forbes, “If you’re healthy, or you’re young, the Obama administration expects you to do your duty and pay up.”
This entire juggernaut needs some 2.7 million generally lower-income young people (who usually need little medicine) to subsidize older people (who tend to have more money and need more care). Like Communism, this may glisten . . . on paper. But when real-life young Americans weigh this “deal,” many and probably most will remain on their parents’ plans until age 26 (which the immeasurably brilliant Obama foolishly demanded) or pay modest non-coverage penalties and then savor their presumed immortality.
Thus, the rivets will pop, the decks will buckle, and Obama’s mighty steamer will slide into the sea.
From steerage to the smokestacks, panicked passengers increasingly will say: “We should have heeded those stevedores who insisted we remain ashore. We should have ignored the crew’s promises that we would stay afloat, no matter what.”
And, by November 2014, the S.S. Obamacare’s passengers will focus their rage on the captain and his officers on the doomed vessel’s bridge.
— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.