It is my opinion that Obamacare is a horrible, horrible law that should never have seen the light of day. Yet I support universal care -- in fact, I consider it to be essential to our future. So how come I don't see Obamacare as a kinder, gentler version of universal care, "good enough" at least as a stop gap measure?
When you get sick, you need a doctor. Not a lawyer, insurance agent, government official or politician. Universal care is the "marriage" of patients and health care providers, so that there is no bureaucrat off in the distance saying "you need to fill out this paperwork before you can be treated". The only prerequisite to care under universal care is that you must be human.
The US spends at least TWICE what any other nation does on health care, and the excess is pure profit to the private insurance companies, for profit hospitals and doctors, and of course, Big Pharma. This is an annual expense of $2 TRILLION -- not to pay for health care, but to create profit for the insurance companies, etc. Yet even then, we could not assure each human in the country would get care, or that many others would not be bankrupted by the copays, deductibles and exclusions in their policies which transferred the costs back to them.
As bad as the old system was, it had certain advantages. When you make a claim under any health insurance policy, it creates a claim which the insurance company records in a file it maintains on your health, as well as a claim the insurance company adjudicates and pays. Your medical data is full of sensitive information most of us would not want the government to know. That data was not on deposit in one single databank; no one could ask "which Americans have Hepatitis C and where are they?" and get an accurate answer. Now, of course, the government and anyone else with access to the huge databank Obamacare created can ask this and anything else about our health they'd like to know. It is extremely naive to think that the government has access to that data but will never abuse that power.
Under the old system, a policy cost was adjudicated by your state's department of insurance. Private insurers had to submit claims paid data, etc. and they could not make an excessive profit (in theory). Under Obamacare, while this is still true in theory, the insurance companies can complicate their rate filings with risks and experience that are specious at best. Despite the "affordability" claims that have been made for Obamacare, most Americans are paying more for health insurance and getting less coverage. The subsidies many receive from the government helps to conceal this, and remember, by forcing healthy young adults to buy insurance, the costs to the rest of us were supposed to be lower. And yet, they went up!
Universal care doesn't simply assure me that I will get care. I'm not especially interested in seeing any doctor for any reason, period. But it does assure me that every human in the country can get care. This means I have no more toothless kindergartners, no more young adults crippled with rickets, no more elderly afflicted with dementia who are neglected to death. It should pay for the full scope of mental health care Americans need, as well as vision, dental, hearing, rehab, etc.
This matters because the health of my community is a quality of life issue for me. Physically and mentally healthy adults are better able to do productive work. Healthy teenagers are less violent and less prone to death by accident or homicide. Etc.
But Obamacare did not provide this comprehensive blanket of care. There are still many millions who are uninsured, and many, many more who are underinsured. It took the $2 TRILLION in health care profits and INCREASED it. Nothing was done to expand care for mental health, dental, etc. Nothing was done to control the cost of health care.
Under universal care, the cost of a hospital stay or a prescription drug could be controlled as insurance premium costs are now -- show us your expenses, and we will pay a price that allows you to meet those costs. As it stands, US citizens pay the R & D costs on drugs for the entire planet, because every other first world nation has universal care and sets the price of drugs far below what Americans are forced to pay. It is insanity to allow Big Pharma to charge whatever it likes, with no accountability at all to the public for their price structure. We allow them to charge "what the market will bear" for drugs that are vital to keep us alive, and we have all seen the unspeakable greed they have employed in gouging us.
So, to sum up, Obamacare:
1. Created more obscence, excessive profit for Big Pharma and the private insurance companies.
2. Constitutes a massive invasion of our privacy.
3. Solved absolutely no problems we face now as to health care, including costs and access.
4. Is nothing more than smoke and mirrors, concealing the GINORMOUS corporate welfare going on.
We could pay for universal care with HALF or less what every insured American pays now for insurance and copays, etc. Whether you feel this is a constitutional issue, the fact remains that if we do not nationalize the health care insurance industry, we are none of us going to be able to receive care once the Boomers begin to sicken and die, in another decade or two.
If you have ever had to fight with an insurance company to get them to authorize care for your family, or been billed for services you feel the insurance company should have covered, or been struck at the GINORMOUS difference in price between name brand and generic drugs, etc., you have had a glimpse of the extraordinary greed that we allow to harm us today.
Will we get universal care? If we can get Congress critters that are not owned by the insurance industry, absolutely. Campaign finance reform -- repealing Citizens United -- is the key. But if we do not get it, we would be FAR better off to repeal Obamacare, close the databank it created and go back to what we had before. The abuses like pre-exisiting conditions and lifetime caps could be easily prohibited by law. We don't need to invite the government into our medicine chests in order to achieve those modest goals.
There is no more time to dither, to move towards universal care in tiny increments. This country is about to have a population that is 50% elderly -- and that changes everything, because old people are sicker and they do not work. Allowing Americans to think that Obamacare advances their interests in a meaningful way is the most deceitful, destructive lie that has been told to us from the white house in my lifetime.