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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Columns

Individual mandate renders Obamacare a problem magnet


The individual mandate is an insurance-lobbyist imposed nail in the coffin of the Affordable Care Act. Health insurance will become unaffordable for millions of Americans now that two major insurance companies are pulling out of state exchanges.

To correct this looming domestic failure, we need to understand how we got to this point.  The Affordable Care Act was meant to be a lifeline to millions of Americans who did not have insurance.

The uninsured could have never prioritized healthcare. They could have been dropped by their insurance company after their claims got out of hand. They could have never been insured due to preexisting conditions. Maybe they simply could not afford health care.

In 2008, all three Democratic primary candidates, Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John Edwards, promised health care reform. Obama topped everyone by opposing an individual mandate. He defeated his primary opponents through promising to reduce health care cost — not universal health care.

After one year in the White House, Obama began to sell his Affordable Care Act. It was a difficult process because, in 1994, insurance company lobbyists humiliated then-President Bill Clinton when he proposed health care reform.

The only way Obama could pass the 2012 Affordable Care Act in Congress is to get this powerful, wealthy and influential lobbyist groups agree with the plan. They had to make sure their companies remained profitable.

The individual mandate resurfaced. Insurance companies added it to the Affordable Care Act. In 2012, the Supreme Court capitulated to the lobbyists and upheld the mandate as a tax.

In August, United Health Care and Aetna pulled out of the exchanges. The largest health insurance companies have realized that the Affordable Care Act is no longer profitable.

Americans are having trouble understanding this since their premiums have skyrocketed, which was because insurance companies make a profit based off the number of people insured.

Insurance companies want to balance this figure by placing the insured in three categories: Those who have chronic medical problems, those who rarely file claims and those who never do.

Insurance companies need the rarely and never sick to outnumber those with chronic claims.  Otherwise, they will fail miserably like they are now.

These companies need a large pool of customers. What has happened is that they didn’t account for the fact that new customers were going to file multiple claims.

This poor foresight meant Americans did not get to keep their plans if they liked them, Companies premiums increased, individual premiums are higher than the tax penalty and insurance companies are leaving the exchanges.

They don’t have a “tax” for not participating unlike the millions of voting Americans.

The Affordable Care Act needs to be revamped to break up the iron grip that pharmaceutical companies and health equipment providers have on our country. These companies are holding America hostage by charging $60 for a $5 inhaler.

Now, expound that 1,200 percent profit increase and apply it to all the medication and health care equipment in a hospital. Hospitals are now charging $40 to new parents to hold their own baby.

They even charge $8,900 for a broken toe.

This stranglehold has to be stopped. Obama should have kept his promise in 2008 and focused on lowering the cost of health care rather than making sure everyone has health insurance.

Opinion columnist Cari Netemeyer is a creative writing senior and can be reached at [email protected] 

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