By Nathaniel Smith, The Times of Chester County, 10/11/16
Our current health care “system” is such an undependable patchwork as to be, for many Americans, crazy.
For years Democrats have been saying that Obamacare, officially the Affordable Care Act (inspired, incidentally, by Mitt Romney’s program in Massachusetts) is imperfect but a good step forward while Republicans (even some benefiting from it) say Obamacare is “big government” at its worst, even though it leaves the insurance industry in the driver’s seat and transfers taxpayer subsidies to private companies.
In our change-averse country, nothing is truly new and everything builds on something else. Obamacare did not create a national health system; it made some improvements, especially in making people with preexisting conditions eligible for insurance, allowing children to stay on their parents’ policies till age 26, and reducing the number of uninsured Americans by 20+ million.
Insurance companies were a willing part of the Obamacare deal but now should we be surprised that they, like pharmaceuticals, are raising their prices? Their job is not to help sick people but to turn a profit.
In 2008-10, a “public option” was under discussion and even passed in the US House of Representatives as part of Obamacare before being shot down in the Senate. The public option would set up an insurance alternative that depends neither on insurance companies nor on taxpayer subsidies. Naturally costs and premiums would be lower because the public option would not have to please stockholders and highly-paid executives. The public option would essentially be Medicare for more people than the currently covered 55,000,000 (mostly over 65, but some younger in special health issues).
Now the public option is back on the table….
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