Just two years past Obamacare’s adoption we are already seeing the president’s lofty promises fall apart—even before the law takes full effect in 2014.
According to a report from the Congressional Budget Office released last month, Obamacare will cost taxpayers $1.76 trillion by 2022 but still leave 27 million Americans uninsured, an increase in the number of uninsured from today. Of the 23 million who receive coverage through this monumental new expense, about 20 million people will be dumped onto the Medicaid program, problems unresolved.
Businesses will either pay a penalty for not covering their employees, or they will have to pay the cost of much higher premiums. In New Hampshire, a full time employee at minimum wage would cost an employer with family health insurance a minimum of $26,000. For anyone looking for work after Obamacare, these costs will mean fewer available jobs.
Additionally, many folks may not be able to find a doctor willing to accept their new Obamacare coverage, and many elderly people will face the harsh reality that there is a bureaucracy in Washington deciding whether they will be covered for that essential treatment or whether painkillers will have to do the trick.
For those of us who understand the true costs of the new health insurance overhaul—and above are listed but a few—there is some hope that the Supreme Court will rule in June that the individual mandate is unconstitutional or might even throw the whole law out. Waiting for that decision, however, is not in the best interest of the state.
With the help of my Republican colleagues, I personally sponsored HB 1297, which would prohibit the creation of a State Health Benefit Exchange; the mechanism the federal bureaucracy will use to enforce the provisions of Obamacare. Obamacare gave us a choice to create a state operated exchange or rely on a federal operated exchange. In effect, the federal bureaucracy would control either version.
Importantly, a state exchange would cost the state an additional $10 million to $30 million a year—money we just don’t have—just to pay for state bureaucrats to follow the federal government’s orders. Even if we do end up with Obamacare, my bill would save New Hampshire money.
Even better is that federal lawmakers set up Obamacare in a way that relied on states creating their own exchanges, and by not setting one up in New Hampshire and other states, the federal overhaul may fail with or without a ruling from the Supreme Court.
That leaves one last point: As Republicans opposing Obamacare, we can’t simply propose a repeal agenda. I’m hoping that the coming failure of Obamacare gives new life to the possibility that we might return to free market principles in health insurance—principles that have been missing for about 100 years now.
I’d like the state to let insurance companies offer true insurance plans without all the mandates, so people have an option to pay for most basic medical services out of pocket, and the insurance would cover serious illnesses and accidents. A la carte add-on coverage should also be allowed. Medical savings accounts, tort reform and out-of-state competition are certainly part of the equation, but also important is restoring a real sense of cost to the medical care and health insurance markets. When people have to pay for an elective MRI, for instance, just like they do corrective eye surgery, we might start to see expensive procedures performed only when they’re necessary.