OPINION: All the hate toward Obamacare is misdirected
Free Press Weekly Opinion Columnist
Obamacare is rapidly becoming a reality and is seemingly opposed by a majority of the American public. Many are simply uninformed as to its provisions.
When asked, “Do you like it?” They respond in the negative. When asked, “Do you want your insurance company to drop you if you are too sick?” “Do you want your insurance company to discontinue your cancer treatment because you have exceeded your lifetime cap?” “Do you want to be able to maintain coverage when you change jobs even if you have a pre-existing condition?” “Do you want to keep your children on your policy?” Their response is overwhelmingly positive to the specific provisions provided by the law.
The paradox is most are against it because they do not know what is in it, only what they fear may be in it. The specifics of the law they favor. They want what they do not know is in it and hate what they have been led to be may be there.
They hate the fact companies are going to limit the hours of their employees to avoid paying health care cost. It seems that most of the companies announcing plans to keep employees to 32 hours or less per week are companies that already use that strategy to avoid providing employees benefits and have done so for years, or are companies that have always had a business plan in place that relies on entry-level employees in part-time positions. They hate the fact that they have been told that the costs of health care coverage will bankrupt them and the nation. They hate the fact that “death panels” will choose to let them die.
We should hate the fact that companies care so little for their employees they do not feel they deserve full-time work or benefits. We should hate the fact that the employees of many of these companies (primarily food industries) utilize public benefits such as food stamps, subsidized housing, etc. at a disproportionally high rate. We should hate that, even before Obamacare, these industries have largely been subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer because the government supports policies that allow them to pay sub-standard wages that force their employees onto the public dole. We should hate the fact that American workers’ wages and benefits have been in a steady decline while corporate profits and CEO salaries have soared. We should realize corporate posturing against higher costs is a mere subterfuge to misdirect our attention.
As for the health care costs that will supposedly skyrocket, we should pay attention to studies conducted by respected organizations such as the Rand Corporation. Their recent study concluded that the cost of mandated health coverage will have minimal impact across the board. While increases in premiums may occur in some states, decreases will occur in others. These fluctuations reflect a normal trend that pre-existed the current law. Those members of Congress on the road beating the drums of discontent should refer to the report of their own Congressional Budget Office that states the law will have the impact of lowering costs and reducing the deficit. Again, they love pointing to CBO figures when convenient and ignoring it when reality is in conflict with their rhetoric of malcontent.
Insurance companies will see an increase in business as they, not the government, will be issuing and underwriting the policies. Hospitals will experience a decreasing demand for unpaid services (a cost borne by those of us with coverage and by the taxpayer) as the number of covered individuals increases. We should hate the fact that in the absence of health care, we indirectly pay for the “insurance” of others as they seek care at emergency rooms. We should hate that our infant mortality rate is at Third-World levels because many have no access to prenatal care. We should hate the fact that our American workers do not have guaranteed access to health care as do their fellow workers in the balance of the industrialized world. We should hate the fact that the American worker has so little value we have sided against them and aligned ourselves with protecting the bottom line of corporate America.
Rather than hating the president, maybe we should re-evaluate our support for the American worker in terms of wages, health care and other benefits. Our vaunted “hard-working” American has become overworked, underpaid and underappreciated, and our personal political dogma is largely to blame.
Jim Hoffman is a local Realtor and investor who, when not working, loves skiing, camping and fishing (in season). He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Reminded of mortality by the Jewish High Holidays, I’ve been thinking about our 14 ½ year-old puppy, Leo. Though near life’s end, his ever-wagging tail signals he’s loving life.