The Failure of Obamacare, Bad Politics!

By Dr. Bruce L. Hartman,

Today in the United States the cost of medical care represents 18% of our GDP. The highest in the world by 50%. No other country spends more than 12% of it’s GDP on healthcare costs. By 2025 the costs will rise to 25% of GDP. At the same time patient outcomes and health are below that of other countries.

These are remarkable statistics when we consider the amount of effort and debate that went into creating and drafting the Affordable Care Act or more commonly known as Obamacare. The reason for paying more and getting less is that Obamacare was drafted as a political solution and not overly interested in the facts.

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Sure twenty million or more Americans now have more access to medical care, but at the expense of the other 300 million Americans. Most Americans have seen a significant rise in their deductibles, some as high as $21,000 per family a year. In effect they are paying for health insurance, but never able to become reimbursed. In effect many Americans now only have catastrophe insurance. All this since the passage of Obamacare.

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We are a nation that has always been committed to helping others and living by Jesus’s golden rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Helping those uninsured fits within our nations ethos. However, the baby got thrown out with bath water and most Americans avoid getting appropriate medical care because the cost and deductible limits.

Obamacare was a vote getting ploy and not a solution. In other words as a nation we added another entitlement that causes the vast majority of Americans to reach deeper into their pockets. Pockets that are already stretched to far. While some politicians got more votes.

While trying to make healthcare more affordable, it’s focus was not on what counts. What counts is making all Americans healthier and reducing the drag healthcare costs has on our country. There were many other ways to lower healthcare costs and provide more coverage for all that were ignored during the creation of Obamacare.

Today medical care is being choked by unnecessary administration. For every ten doctors it requires 7 administrators to maintain the billing paperwork. The cause is the unwieldy forms required by the government and insurance companies. We have all had to fill out these complicated forms. Interestingly, there is no incentive for insurance companies to reduce administrative costs, they make profits off these costs.

There is also no transparency in pricing by medical providers. Imagine going into a clothing store and shopping without prices. Essentially, medical providers charge exorbitant fees and then take discounts off the billed price, depending on various situations that exist. This confusing billing practice never provides the consumer with a chance to evaluate what they are spending. On top of that many prices are inflated to drive up the amount that will be reimbursed. It is not uncommon to get a medical bill that has a 50% or more discount applied. In other words by creating higher prices, medical firms create a higher reference price that raises future reimbursement rates. In all 50 states this type of deceptive pricing is illegal.

Preventative care is woefully lacking. With better access to preventative medicine, as much 50% of all medical procedures could be prevented. Americans rate very high in the occurrence of Diabetes and heart disease. While some of this is caused by life style and an aging population, much of this could be avoided with lower cost preventative medicine.

Being a litigious society affects our medical costs in two ways. First, the open ended way litigation occurs. Most lawsuits have no cost to the person bringing the claim and attorneys are paid based on the percentage they receive for their clients. Other countries require the plaintiffs to pay court costs if they lose. Secondly, out of fear many medical professionals excessively perform procedures or follow up procedures to ensure a better defense in court. Causing patients to have unnecessary medical bills and procedures. Other countries have far less follow up procedures and a healthier population.

Since Obamacare went into effect there has been a consolidation in insurance providers, limiting the consumers ability to shop for a better supplier. For instance, in North Carolina there is only one company providing medical insurance! In all other insurance lines of coverage, you can shop nationally. Consider Geico, Liberty Mutual or Progressive with automobile insurance. All auto insurance companies that can be bought nationally. Obamacare has constrained the insurance coverage by state, why not allow the consumer to buy nationally.

All of these factors are what has caused the majority of the rise in costs, but none are addressed in Obamacare. Simply put, Obamacare has not worked because it is political and not focused on the issues. Certainly, it got more votes for its proponents, but left “We the People” choking on higher medical costs.

Additionally, two powerful lobby groups fight against reforms, the American Bar Association and medical industry. Why? Because these reforms other countries have in place would cost their clients profits.

This is not to say that ensuring all Americans should have access to affordable medicine isn’t a good goal. It is right and noble to help all. It is the Christian way. But Obamacare’s failure to address the real issues, as opposed to politics, is no more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Leaving most Americans with unaffordable healthcare coverage.

Dr. Bruce L. Hartman, author of the book Jesus & Co.: Connecting the Lessons of The Gospel with Today’s Business World. Bruce Hartman is the founder of Gideon Advisors, a Christian advisory firm committed to “walking with people into a brighter future” as they navigate life and career transitions and advance Christian values in the marketplace.

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