Life Is Not That Complicated

Retiring Oklahoma GOP Senator Tom Coburn said in an interview that fixing the Affordable Care Act is necessary, and not so difficult.  He alluded to a GOP proposal which enshrines the elimination of “pre-existing conditions” exclusions and provides a path for all Americans to purchase their own coverage.  He justified his proposal on the basis that some two hundred thousand have signed up for ACA while over two million have had their coverage discontinued.  Under the GOP proposal, no one would be forced to do anything, and everyone would have the opportunity to buy coverage.  Hmmm

There is no evidence to date that defending ACA at all costs is worth the effort.  The ACA is only one of many ways to reduce the injustices and the potential to cap the out of control costs that our US health care delivery system is built around.  Without a doubt there are other good alternatives available short of adopting far superior systems found in most all other developed countries.  But taking Coburn’s comments lying down only sets Americans up to buy a bridge he might have for sale next.

So what must we recognize.

The 50 million or so Americans who were uninsured prior to ACA were composed broadly of those who chose not to buy any insurance, those who could not buy adequate insurance and those would buy insurance but lacked the financial capability.  The two million Americans that Coburn estimates have lost coverage result from a wide range of generally low wage paying companies who reduced employee hours to a level where these employers were not required to provide coverage.  These companies claim they could not afford to increase their benefit costs and stay in business.  Hmmm.

Now back to the GOP plan.  Allowing the young and healthy to opt out of insurance, by simple math, means that everyone else pays more.  It also leaves open the gravy train where the uninsured still use hospital Emergency Rooms driving up the hospitals’ costs and when many uninsured fail to pay, these costs find their way to everyone else through inflated billings.

The pre-existing cohort apparently under the GOP plan can buy insurance if they can afford the premium.  The GOP seems adamant that insurance companies must offer coverage even if the customer cannot afford it.   Hmmm.

The US spends around $2.9 trillion per year for health care services.  This equates to about $9,000 per person per year, man, woman, and child.  This is roughly twice as much as any other country in the world.  Hmmm.

It is simply a shame that our politicians spend so much time arguing about the Affordable Care Act when the entire health care delivery system is built upon an unsustainable financial model.

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