Steven Brill and 'Time' Explore the Health Crisis in America: A Must Read for all Americans
This conclusion is not one likely to be appreciated or taken to heart by liberal advocates of universal health care, or socialized medicine. Calling a Republican position “commonsense” is not what one expects to read in the MSM. Later, when he addresses the issue of the care cost curve, Brill concludes that Obamacare does nothing to restrain cost, contrary to the president’s claim that it does:
[The policy experts] know what the core problem is -- lopsided pricing and outsize profits in a market that doesn’t work. Yet there is little in Obamacare that addresses that core issue or jeopardizes the paydays of those thriving in that marketplace. In fact, by bringing so many new customers into that market by mandating that they get health insurance and then providing taxpayer support to pay their insurance premiums, Obamacare enriches them. That, of course, is why the bill was able to get through Congress.
Obamacare does some good work around the edges of the core problem. It restricts abusive hospital-bill collecting. It forces insurers to provide explanations of their policies in plain English. It requires a more rigorous appeal process conducted by independent entities when insurance coverage is denied. These are all positive changes, as is putting the insurance umbrella over tens of millions more Americans -- a historic breakthrough. But none of it is a path to bending the health care cost curve. Indeed, while Obamacare’s promotion of statewide insurance exchanges may help distribute health-insurance policies to individuals now frozen out of the market, those exchanges could raise costs, not lower them. With hospitals consolidating by buying doctors’ practices and competing hospitals, their leverage over insurance companies is increasing. That’s a trend that will only be accelerated if there are more insurance companies with less market share competing in a new exchange market trying to negotiate with a dominant hospital and its doctors. Similarly, higher insurance premiums -- much of them paid by taxpayers through Obamacare’s subsidies for those who can’t afford insurance but now must buy it -- will certainly be the result of three of Obamacare’s best provisions: the prohibitions on exclusions for pre-existing conditions, the restrictions on co-pays for preventive care and the end of annual or lifetime payout caps.
Call it, if you will, the law of unintended consequences.
If you are under 65, and think your insurance policy covers what health care you must have in the face of a medical catastrophe, think again. Read Brill’s findings about the specific cases of individuals whose savings and money disappeared after seeking necessary treatment, only to find that their insurance hardly helped at all. He makes an argument that lowering rather than raising the age in which Medicare kicks in will actually help lower costs, and make the market more competitive. Brill knocks the drug industry and the Obama administration for getting industry approval for Medicare by agreeing not to allow negotiating to lower drug prices, and also not allowing comparative-effectiveness research on drugs.