The solution to the “health care debate” in this country couldn’t be any more obvious, yet it’s the answer to a hotly debated topic that almost no Republican will admit is true: We need a single-payer/Medicare-for-all health care system.
If we can, for a few minutes, let’s ignore the partisan propaganda, talking points, and fear-mongering. Instead, let’s focus on the actual problems of the Affordable Care Act, the Republican “alternative” to that law, and the one issue both sides agree is the main concern with our current health care system. I’m, of course, talking about cost of coverage. In particular, the continued skyrocketing costs of health care premiums.
Before going forward, whether Republicans want to believe it or not, the rate at which health care premiums have risen has actually been lower since the passage of Obamacare than before it became the law of the land. Obviously this isn’t something most Obamacare critics know about considering you’ll never see this fact talked about in the conservative media.
Nevertheless, premiums are still going up. And it’s been those increases that Republicans have cherry picked to use as their go-to talking point as to why the ACA is, as they call it, such a “disaster.”
Is Obamacare flawed? Absolutely. Though as we recently saw, Republicans clearly have no idea how to “repeal and replace” it with a better alternative. Their “plan” was nothing more than a gutting of Medicaid, a massive tax break for the rich, and would have resulted in millions of Americans losing health insurance.
But at the crux of why Trumpcare failed so miserably is the reality that Republicans and those who support them will never admit: The socialist aspects of Obamacare are too popular to eliminate.
Here are some of the main “socialist” parts of Obamacare:
- Requiring health insurance companies to provide coverage for everyone, regardless of whether or not they have a pre-existing condition.
- Allowing children to remain on their parents’ health care plans until they’re 26.
- The elimination of lifetime limits.
- Medicaid expansion.
- Limits on how much more Americans over 50 can be charged.
- Basic “essential health benefits” all policies must offer.
And guess what, it’s those parts of Obamacare that kept moderate Republicans from supporting Trumpcare.
When the original GOP plan was introduced, the two biggest knocks on it were the gutting of Medicaid and the enormous spike in premiums Americans 50 and older would see due to their plan allowing companies to charge older Americans much more than they could under Obamacare.
Even Paul Ryan admitted that the plan had to do more to help older Americans.
So, what was his “fix”? Well, socialism!
When Ryan rolled out Trumpcare 2.0, he “fixed” part of the problem of premium increases for older Americans by blocking out around $75 billion that could potentially be used as some form of subsidies to help people 50 and over to afford their premiums. Though the “best” part to that is, all Ryan’s plan really did was provide $75 billion in taxpayer money that, in theory, would help older Americans pay for a massive spike in their premiums, but it would ultimately be money that went straight to these health insurance companies who were still being allowed to charge these higher rates. Not only was Ryan giving these companies a massive tax break, but he was now putting aside billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies that would ultimately end up in their pockets as well.
But no matter what “side” of this debate you’re on, the complaint by both is the cost of premiums. As I’ve said numerous times, there’s absolutely no way to provide “better, cheaper health care coverage” under a for-profit health care system.
In a for-profit industry, increasing revenues is always the main focus. How would you ever construct a law that covers more Americans (with better coverage, no less), while lowering costs, dealing with an industry based upon the never-ending pursuit of “growing quarterly profits”?
It’s. Not. Possible.
It’s not as if prior to Obamacare, when we had far fewer regulations on our health care industry, premiums were going down. So this nonsense by the far-right that the ACA’s regulations are what’s driving up costs is absurd. What’s driving up costs is what always drives up costs — greed.
All these years Republicans talked about “repealing and replacing Obamacare” with a much better plan and what did we get? Basically a stripped-down version of Obamacare that made an already flawed law much… much worse.
One of the biggest “selling points” Republicans have tried to use about health insurance is this idea that more “freedom” gives people the ability to “choose the type of coverage they need.” While that sounds good, it doesn’t make a damn bit of sense.
Because that’s not how any type of insurance works.
The point of any insurance is to ensure that you have some sort of backup in the event of an unexpected emergency. It’s also meant to “spread liability around” in a big pool people pay into in case of those unexpected emergencies.
That’s why “a la carte” insurance doesn’t make any sense. Sure, you can construct health care plans that cover very basic things like doctor’s visits or routine exams. And for many Americans most of the time that will be all the “coverage” they’ll need. But that stripped-down, cheaper plan isn’t likely going to do them any good if they have an unexpected heart attack, get cancer, or they’re diagnosed with some other severe health condition requiring treatment for the rest of their lives.
That’s the “funny” thing about emergencies, most people don’t expect them since they tend to be, you know, unexpected. Not too many people fully plan for a heart attack, cancer, or some other life-altering health condition. They don’t have a jar in their kitchen marked “use for whenever I have my eventual heart attack” or open special “Cancer CDs” at their local bank.
Stripping down health care policies by selling it as “choose how much coverage you need because you know what’s best for you” is just another way of saying “we’re not going to make your health insurance better, we’re just allowing you to strip down your coverage to the bare minimums to lower costs.”
The reason why Obamacare is flawed, and why Trumpcare failed so badly, is the exact same reason: There’s not enough socialism in either.
One would think with as popular as Medicare is with seniors, and how popular the socialist parts of Obamacare are even with most Republicans, that more of that would be a good thing, right?
At the end of the day, people like Bernie Sanders and everyone else on the left who wants a single-payer system are on the right side of history on this argument. If people truly wanted the right-wing “Republican dream” of health care, then Trumpcare would have been a “slam dunk” instead of an epic failure.
Ultimately, Trumpcare failed because it took too much of the popular socialism out of Obamacare. Meanwhile, the reason why Obamacare is flawed is because there isn’t enough socialism (aka it’s not single-payer), which allows private insurance companies to keep hiking premiums.
The answer to the “health care debate” in this country is simple: Single-payer.
Looking at the fact that there’s not a single example anywhere in the world where the “for-profit/free market” take on health care Republicans champion has proven to be successful at providing quality comprehensive and affordable coverage to its citizens, this is a no-brainer. Especially considering we have a socialized health care system already in place in this country, Medicare, that’s proven to not only be effective, but incredibly popular among those who have it.
The biggest problem now is getting Republicans to admit that. While I’m not overly optimistic of that happening anytime soon, I do hope that the catastrophic failure of Trumpcare might at least open the door to more people realizing that the way to “fix Obamacare” isn’t by stripping it down, but by building it up toward a true single-payer system like most of the rest of the industrialized countries on Earth have.