The People Have Made Their Choice
I ran a solid, well researched and issue based campaign. The people of the 97th have made their decision, and want to continue the party based, conservative representation they have had for the last 6 years. I’m ok with that, and I am sure Mr. Wentworth will deliver in Lansing. So what’s next? I’m returning to my practice, we will be expanding and we will continue to work with patient not only in the District, but all over Northern Michigan. I call upon my supporters to do two things- Support Mr. Wentworth and give him a chance.
I have concerns for our future
While the people have spoken, both in the district and nationally, I have some concerns about the future. While I am ok the people of the district picked someone else, I’d like to think that a few points I made will hit home. This is the first in a series of articles I’d like to write addressing issues of concern to the District. I’m not running for anything, but I’d like to keep the conversation going. You can join our mailing list and keep in touch as well. Just click our sign up form link and fill it out. I’ll reach out from time to time.
Just prior to the election, someone came on my Facebook page. She was very much against ‘Obamacare’ because it was too expensive. She said she had an IQ of 145, no college degree, and only made $25,000 a year and couldn’t afford the payments. I tried to point out that individuals making less than $47k a year and families of 4 making less than $97k a year qualified for discounts, and that over 70% of Michigan residents using the ACA paid less than $100 a month, but she felt her salvation was with the repeal of the Act. She made it clear she was voting for those that would tell her to get off her tail and make something of herself because they would solve her problems by repealing Obamacare. I just don’t understand that logic.
I think many shared her opinion, not because they researched it, but because they bought into the carefully crafted image of the ACA by those that oppose it based on political dogma. Tying the hated name ‘Obama’ to it, promoting it as a matter of ‘free market’, and demonizing the ‘freeloaders’ that were abusing the system was all designed to destroy it as a policy. Unfortunately, they don’t have a real alternative to offer. It violates the first law of climbing trees, don’t let go of one branch until you have ahold of another.
People like to take pot shots at Obamacare. We don’t like to pay for insurance, we would rather take that money and spend it on ‘our’ needs- be it groceries or a new ATV. People pay for healthcare in one of three ways- their insurance pays, they personally pay, or someone else pays for their care.
A couple of key features of the ACA was that everyone got insurance, folks weren’t barred because they were sick and cut into the profits of the insurance companies. This worked because healthy people also paid into the system to absorb the strain of those sick enough to need the benefits- much like people without children still pay school taxes. When we were children we were educated with the help of our neighbors, when we grew up, we help to educate the next generation.
So what is next? The alternative to the ACA is to return to ‘free market’ insurance just like we had before. The assumption is that market pressures will reduce the premiums, and that healthy people can opt out of getting insurance based on their assessment of their healthcare needs and their own priorities. We will go back to the system of pre-existing conditions, insurance companies will maximize their profits, and I suspect 19 million of our friends and neighbors will lose their insurance. So will people suffering from Diabetes, Heart Disease or Cancer- they will see their rates go through the roof if they can obtain coverage at all. Or end up on state funded medicaid once they are financially ruined trying to pay for their medical needs.
Do We Care about the 19 Million?
There was a reason we tried to expand health coverage, and there is no plan for covering those 19 million people if the ACA is repealed. Imagine what would happen to our schools if each of us had the option of paying for public education, or not, depending on if we had children or ‘felt’ public education was worthy of our tax money. Not only would individual school tax bills go up significantly, as fewer people were paying into the system, but the total education budget would go down and public education would suffer.
Here is the dilemma. Healthcare is not plumbing, nor is it an ATV. If you have a heart attack, you go to the hospital and they treat you. They don’t check to see if you can pay first. If you have insurance, it is billed. If you are wealthy enough to personally write a check for tens of thousands of dollars, the treatment still is covered, you just have to pay off the second mortgage on your home. But if option a/b doesn’t work, the hospital, which is a major employer in most communities, eats the bill itself. So do the doctors. THEY are the ones paying for your care out of their pockets.
Conservative ‘Personal Responsibility’
Personal responsibility and conservative politics does not mesh with demanding others take care of you for free because you don’t want to pay for insurance or pay your own bills. You aren’t addressing the problem by repealing the ACA, you are just shifting the responsibility away from you to another person, business, or the taxpayers.
If you think ‘free market’ will magically reduce the cost of private insurance, you are fooling yourself, because it is clear you don’t know how insurance companies make money. They collect premiums and don’t pay claims by culling out people that are sick. They want school taxes from people with no children.
Can we Fix This?
There are three things we can do to fix the ACA. First, if an insurance company sells health insurance in Michigan, they should be required to have bronze/silver/gold products on the exchange. Increasing the choices increases competition.
Second, make the policy worth the money. We need lower deductibles- why require someone to pay for insurance that doesn’t kick in until the $5,000 deductible is met? That is useless and folks won’t buy it. Companies are required to pay out 80% of their premiums in claims on the exchange, and prices are scheduled to go up 7%. Is this creative accounting?
How about we see if they are really trying? Limit their business in Michigan to the percentage of the exchange they cover. If BCBS, just to illustrate, covers 80% of the Michigan market, they should be priced competitively enough to cover 80% of the exchange. If they are only covering 10% perhaps we should have a look at that. They don’t seem to be trying too hard. Finally, it should be cheaper to have the insurance than to pay the penalty to encourage participation.
Next in the Series: Michigan No Fault- Is it worth it and how can we make it better?