Historically, when politicians get involved in areas outside the political realm, they end up making things worse for the general public. Every time they try to regulate an industry they end up screwing it up more than helping and the healthcare industry is the latest and greatest example of government intervention gone wrong.
Perhaps the best example of just how bad government intervention has ruined the healthcare system is Cover Oregon. I’ve recently written about the huge rate increases being approved in Oregon for 2016, but there is more to the story of just how badly politicians messed up the state’s healthcare system.
At the onset of Obamacare, Oregon received $300 million to help them set up Cover Oregon. Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber claimed that their state run program would be the model for government operated healthcare. However, Oregon residents didn’t flock to the new healthcare program. In fact, initially, Cover Oregon failed to sign up a single person.
With re-election approaching, Kitzhaber tasked his political team to oversee Cover Oregon and get people to enroll. The problem with those the governor placed to fix a broken system is that they had no knowledge of technology or the healthcare system in general. Realizing they were out of their league, Kitzhaber’s chief political advisor Patricia McCaig decided to place the blame on the federal government and the companies that were contracted to create the Cover Oregon website and enrollment system. She urged the state’s attorney general to file a lawsuit against Oracle and the other contactors.
McCaig’s efforts to deflect blame on a state run healthcare program that failed from the onset were successful enough to get Kitzhaber re-elected, but that term didn’t last long. Kitzhaber ended up resigning due to a scandal involving bribery, his girlfriend and several green energy organizations.
Those investigating Kitzhaber also looked into his involvement with the failing Cover Oregon healthcare system. The political team that Kitzhaber had tasked with fixing the broken healthcare system were found to be attempting to destroy evidence, including emails, about their own and the governor’s role and decision making concerning Cover Oregon.
Eventually Cover Oregon did begin to get people to enroll, but not the people they needed to make the system work. For their healthcare system to work, they needed to have a large number of young healthy people paying into the system in order to help cover the cost of the elderly and those that have health problems. Instead, Cover Oregon failed to entice very many young healthy people to enroll, but they did get a number of older and sicker people to enroll. This ends up costing the healthcare providers more than they are taking in on premiums. The result has led to huge double-digit premium increases for 2016.
From what I’ve been able to learn is that Kitzhaber was right in one thing when he claimed that Cover Oregon would be the model of a government run healthcare system. Many other states are also facing huge double-digit premium increases for 2016. Rate increases requested by Blue Cross and Blue Shield demonstrate just how flawed the system is. The healthcare giant submitted requests to raise premiums an average of 23% in Illinois, 25% in North Carolina, 30% in Maryland, 31% in Oklahoma and a staggering 54% in Minnesota.
Do any of these rate requests sound affordable to you? How many of you could afford to pay 20% to 54% more for your healthcare coverage? It’s obvious that there are going to be a large number of Americans who drop their healthcare coverage come 2016 because they can no longer afford to comply with the Affordable Care Act individual mandate, adding to the failure of a government run healthcare system.