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Affordable Care Act? Not really

June 18, 2015
Editorial , Lake Placid News

Health insurance is going to cost a lot more for many Americans.

President Barack Obama is not the first person to claim he could provide more people with health insurance while keeping costs for care under control, but it took Obama's "hope and change" mantra to get a national health care plan on the books.

Change certainly is occurring. Millions of Americans have been affected adversely by Obamacare. Some have found the president was not being honest when he pledged that if they liked their health insurance, they could keep it. Some are losing excellent insurance provided through employers. Many learned that even with massive government subsidies, the only insurance they could afford leaves them with massive out-of-pocket obligations. And many are being fined hundreds of dollars a year for failing to obtain government-approved coverage.

The latest news, though, is that now many insurance companies say they must increase rates for health care policies. Increases in double digits will be common, just like in the days before the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. Some large insurers propose rate hikes of 20-25 percent or more. Both government policies and those paid for by individuals will be affected.

Insurers have cited unexpectedly high expenses for Obamacare policies as a primary reason for the increases. That's probably true. We suspect there's another reason as well: These companies' beneficiaries are getting richer by exploiting the public.

It's true that the Affordable Care Act has done some good. Scrapping it would hurt many people who could not afford insurance without it, such as younger people who can now remain under their parents' plans until they are 26 years old. Also, insurance companies are no longer allowed to reject people just because they have pre-existing conditions.

But in view of the news from insurers, how many Americans are being priced out of the market because of Obamacare?

We agree with conservative politicians like our congresswoman, Elise Stefanik, that Obamacare is a mess, but Republicans like her have proposed no real alternative. Many of them tend to heed the beck and call of big-business health industries over the needs of Americans.

We, however, have a clear and obvious solution. We've been talking about it for years. This nation should have single-payer health insurance - Medicare for all - but so far there's been little political will to consider it.

Why do we in this country lay health insurance on the backs of employers? That makes no sense. It squelches hiring and makes things much less fair and more complicated than they have to be. Imagine how hiring would increase if every employer in the nation no longer had to worry about the cost of health insurance for every employee. Imagine how property taxes would decrease if health insurance (and, for counties, Medicaid) costs were no longer on the books of our school districts and municipalities.

We don't believe it would cost much more than we're paying now, because it would reduce the terrible inefficiency of the United States' current system. According to the World Health Organization Global Health Expenditure database, in 2013 (the latest year stats are available, and with Obamacare in place) the U.S. spent $9,146 per person on health care, which is more than every other nation except Norway and Sweden, which have luxurious national health coverage. Canada spent $5,718.

There could be victims of such a move - the health insurance companies - but we're willing to risk that. They'd land on their feet.

Only one presidential candidate is pushing this: Bernie Sanders of Vermont. We're not close to ready to endorse anyone yet, but on this issue, we hope he gets some traction.

The Democratic Party alternative, the Affordable Care Act, is proving to be unaffordable.



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