One needs to look no further than Massachusetts to see the unintended consequences of ObamaCare. Of course, Maine, Hawaii, and Tennessee are also examples to look at in the rear view mirror since they were all failures and were repealed in their proper states. Massachusetts, however, is the only living, breathing example to observe and learn from (which should have been done before passing the bill). I was able to research and learn from the Massachusetts experience, however unfortunately the congressional "progressives" did not. So, what should they have taken away from the Massachusetts example?
First of all, Mass Care in practice (since 2006) is a very close substitute to the federal law in design. Its goal was to cover all residents regardless of pre-existing conditions, be affordable, maintain quality, and bring the costs to the state down. The verdict? It is a total failure in the words of no less than Boston Globe, the defenders of everything progressive under the sun. This is not recent news as the article appeared over a year ago. More recently than that, and perhaps with much more credibility, Timothy Cahill said the U.S. would be bankrupted within four years by the health care bill if it passed. He should know since he was the Democrat treasurer of Massachusetts (now running for governor as an independent). The unpopular governor Deval Patrick seems to disagree but he is just about alone in that view, especially since it is not only the facts and figures along with the progressive Globe, but also just about anyone involved in the health care sector in Massachusetts that see the system as the disaster that it is - one where Mass now has the highest premiums in the nation (starting at nearly $10,000 for an individual policy); one where over 200,000 are without coverage even before the state recently had to throw over 30,000 off the health care rolls in a futile attempt to avert bankruptcy (2009 cost to the state: $1.3 billion); one where small businesses cannot afford the mandates and have stopped expanding.
It was a mere two weeks after President Obama signed ObamaCare into law, one result was that Governor Deval Patrick, "rejected 235 of 274 insurer requests for premium increases for individuals and small businesses over the coming year" -- requests made by that state's three largest nonprofit insurers, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harvard Pilgrim, and Tufts Heath Plan. Later in the week, the insurers simply stopped selling policies. According to the Wall Street Journal, three of the four largest suffered net operating losses in 2009 and the Democrats' "arbitrary rate cap will result in another $100 million in collective losses this year [...making...] it impossible to pay the anticipated costs of claims, and threatening the near-term solvency of some companies." The Journal noted,
...state officials have demanded that the insurers-under the threat of fines and other regulatory punishments-resume offering quotes by today and to revert to year-old base premiums. Let that one sink in: Mr. Patrick has made the health insurance business so painful the government actually has to order private companies to sell their products (albeit at sub-market costs).
The article also reveals a number of interesting facts, including:
- Massachusetts' "insurance regulators have concluded the reason [that state's] premiums are the highest in the nation is the underlying cost of health care, not the supposed industry abuses" imagined by President Obama and Governor Patrick.
- The unsurprising fact that because Massachusetts' universal health care mandate prohibits exclusion for pre-existing conditions, people simply "wait until they're about to incur major medical expenses before buying insurance and transfer the costs to everyone else."
- Once the medical emergency has passed, short-term enrollees drop their coverage - because they know they can demand "insurance" the next time they want it.
- Blue Cross reported "short-term customers ... ran up costs more than four times the average" and dropped coverage "within three months." Harvard Pilgrim's experience with such hit-and-run enrollees is that they remained with the plan "fewer than five months and on average incurred costs about 600% higher."
Of course, when their next medical stubbed toe happens, such short-term "purchasers" will return.
That is reality in Massachusetts, and under ObamaCare, it foreshadows the future of all Americans - with a socialist inspired financial vengeance.
It was clear to all of us who effortlessly saw the unintended as well as intended consequences of ObamaCare. After all, what does it take to see that a $2,000 fine for not having health insurance is heck of a lot cheaper than the premiums, especially when pre-existing conditions no longer preclude anyone from obtaining a policy for the duration of their medical condition? Answer is: not much intellect - of course unless you are a progressive. As for intended consequences, as no less than Senator Bauckus, Nancy Pelosi, and Howard Dean among legions of other progressives have admitted, ObamaCare will be the proverbial doorway to a single payer health care system that Democrats have longed for for almost a century now. I will lay out the reasons and the unmistakable road map to socialized medicine in my next post.