Now that open enrollment is upon us and ObamaCare premiums are soaring through the roof (again), my email inbox is being flooded with questions from frustrated Americans. I’ll do my best to provide answers that even a dummy could understand.
Dear Tom: The Affordable Care Act of 2010 was supposed to extend health insurance coverage and reduce costs. Why do my premiums keep going up? - Hurting in Houston
Dear Hurting: ObamaCare was sold to the public along emotional lines - insurance for all, including folks with pre-existing conditions. It was sold using several mistruths - that you could expand coverage and costs would go down. Its architects knew all along that you can’t give everyone the goodies they want without causing premiums to explode. ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber explained on several occasions that ObamaCare was designed to dupe stupid Americans - and dupe it did
Dear Tom: Before ObamaCare become law, President Obama said that my family’s policy would drop by $2,500 a year, and he promised we’d get to keep my doctor. But our policy increased by $5,000 a year, our deductibles quadrupled and we lost our favorite doctors. How could Obama’s promises go so horribly wrong? - Misled in Mississippi
Dear Misled: It must have been Bush’s fault.
Dear Tom: How could the government bureaucrats who masterminded ObamaCare get their estimates so terribly wrong? In the private sector, heads would roll. - Peeved in Peoria
Dear Peeved: Government ObamaCare enrollee estimates were off by about half. That is, millions of young, healthy people who were expected to purchase health insurance policies are - shocking, I know - spending their money on beer instead. Since young, healthy people don’t need as much care, their premiums cover the costs of people who do need care. Without them, ObamaCare is imploding. Private-sector employees would be fired for getting their estimates so wrong. Government bureaucrats get bonuses.
Dear Tom: I don’t have a question. I just want to share my frustration. I’m shopping around for an individual policy, but ObamaCare is making me buy coverage for things I don’t need. - Agitated in Arizona
Dear Agitated: So true. ObamaCare requires your new policy to meet 10 new minimum standards that include coverage for such things as mental health, drug abuse and maternity - even if you are a 51-year-old man who will never bear children, you must pay for maternity care.
Dear Tom: I’m glad individuals with pre-existing conditions can now get coverage, but couldn’t we have helped such people without disrupting one-sixth of the U.S. economy? - Perplexed in Pittsburgh
Dear Perplexed: Sure, there are much simpler and better ways to help the uninsured and Americans who were unable to get insurance due to pre-existing conditions - we could have addressed each challenge in a targeted manner with risk pools, for instance. However, politicians and government bureaucrats are more interested in outright control than they are in solutions that actually produce the desired health-care outcomes.
Dear Tom: I don’t think ObamaCare is failing. I think its planners designed it to pave the way for the single-payer government health care that policy progressives have wanted to impose on the country for years. - Suspicious in Syracuse
Dear Suspicious: I’m not sure ObamaCare’s architects were clever enough to pull off such a strategy. That said, ObamaCare is dishing out so much pain to so many middle-class people, it does open up an opportunity for another silver-tongued politician to promise that higher taxes on the rich will fund “Medicare for all!” We are at a fork in the road: Either we apply sensible market reforms to correct the root cause of our health-care woes - costs are out of control - or we give up as a people and let the government complete its desired health-care takeover. We better hope and pray for sensible reform.
Tom Purcell is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Send comments to Tom at Tom@TomPurcell.com