President Obama has begun speaking about health care more frequently on the campaign trail to the delight of liberals who still believe the law’s unpopularity is a result of the administration’s failure to defend it forcefully enough. In a twist this week, Obama attempted to co-opt conservative rhetoric on health care to make the case for his own law.
Here was Obama in Colorado on Wednesday, in the context of talking about the contraception mandate:
Now, let me tell you something, Denver — I don’t think your boss should get to control the health care that you get. I don’t think insurance companies should control the care that you get. I don’t think politicians should control the care that you get. I think there’s one person to make these decisions on health care, and that is you. You should make that decision.
That’s a pretty jaw dropping passage by Obama, considering his record of opposing reforms that would give more power to individuals and supporting policies that quash individual choice. Let’s take it line by line.
“I don’t think your boss should get to control the health care that you get.”
Unfortunately, under the current system, bosses do exert a great degree of control over the type of care Americans get, because 150 million Americans obtain coverage through their employers, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. In 2008, GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain proposed ending the discrimination in the tax code against individuals purchasing health care on their own, which would have made it easier for Americans purchase whatever coverage they wanted and allowed them to take it with them from job to job. But candidate Obama blasted the idea as a massive tax increase and rejected such reforms as president.
“I don’t think insurance companies should control the care that you get.”
One way to give individuals more control would be through expanded health savings accounts that would take power away from insurance companies by allowing individuals to spend their own money on health care as they like on a tax-free basis. But Obama undercut health savings accounts. Instead, he worked with insurance industry lobbyists to impose a law that mandates that individuals purchase their products and then subsidizes those purchases to the tune of over $1 trillion.
“I don’t think politicians should control the care that you get.”
The entire thrust of Obamacare is to allow politicians to control the type of health care Americans get. In addition to mandating the purchase of insurance coverage, the law defines what constitutes insurance. So once the law fully kicks in, not only will Americans have to purchase coverage, but they’ll have to purchase the type of coverage that’s been approved by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in accordance with the specifications set by the politicians who passed Obamacare. The law also sets up exchanges, a mechanism for subsidizing individuals to purchase insurance. But any policy offered on the exchanges has to be a “qualified health plan” that offers an “essential health benefits package.” Just a taste, from Section 1302 of the law:
“Subject to paragraph (2), the Secretary shall define the essential health benefits, except that such benefits shall include at least the following general categories and the items and services covered within the categories:
(A) Ambulatory patient services.
(B) Emergency services.
(D) Maternity and newborn care.
(E) Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment.
(F) Prescription drugs.
(G) Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices.
(H) Laboratory services.
(I) Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management.
(J) Pediatric services, including oral and vision care.
Imposing such requirements drives up the cost of insurance by denying healthier individuals the ability to choose cheaper, less comprehensive plans. Weeks before the passage of the Senate health care bill, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that in 2016, individual health insurance premiums would be 10 percent to 13 percent higher under Obamacare than they would have been if no law passed.
“I think there’s one person to make these decisions on health care, and that is you. You should make that decision.”
Which is exactly why we should repeal Obamacare and replace it with an alternative that gives individuals more choices and control over their health care dollars.