15th Jul 2013

Can Obamacare Succeed?

There has been a lot in the news over the past several years discussing Obamacare and its implications for not just the US healthcare industry, but its impact on our society more generally.

We learned from lawmaker Nancy Pelosi that this complicated piece of legislation, the details of which covered many thousands of pages, would need to be passed by Congress before Americans would have the chance to “find out what is in it.” Well, the bill was passed in March of 2010. More than three years later, we still don’t really know what’s in it nor how it will ultimately affect the cost of healthcare in the US. In fact, most of what we have experienced from the attempted implementation of ” The Affordable Care Act” has demonstrated that, first of all, its name is a misnomer. News abounds of increases in the costs of healthcare because of the inefficiencies and other issues stemming from what appears to be gross lack of understanding of economic principles and utter neglect. Nothing new from out of touch politicians who seem to consistently overestimate their intelligence. There have been numerous problems implementing the plan, including the inability to attract interest from consumers to state-operated health insurance exchanges.

The bill seems to be designed to create challenges. Not just extra paperwork and inconvenience. Those in the healthcare industry who I’ve talked to (doctors, insurance people, legal counsel for human resources) have been consistent in their criticism of the complexities of complying with the confusing and often contradicting regulations in the law. A fried of mine who handles benefits compliance legalities for a large non-profit told me, “It seems as if the regulations were made to not allow companies to comply with them.” His perspective leaned toward an explanation that says the federal government hopes that the implementation of a burdensome, complicated system of following the new healthcare law will cause businesses to give up on it altogether and later beg for a single payer system. This reasoning seems to fit what’s happening. After all, if a child resists one form of punishment, offering a much more severe discipline alternative can make the seemingly milder form suddenly attractive.

One of the major issues Obamacare has faced is the natural tendency of company decision makers to survive and to maintain profits, or at least not bleed away the very reason for being in business in the first place. Companies naturally sidestep whatever parts of the Obamacare regulations they legally can, including through laying off workers or reducing their hours so that the companies don’t get bogged down or run out of business trying to jump through too many of the oppressive ACA hoops.

Obamacare Flowchart

The only arrow that seems to make sense on the Obamacare Flowchart is the one that directs the entire program into the trash can

The only conclusion I can draw from piecing together these facts is that Obamacare as it was marketed wasn’t intended to succeed. Instead, the healthcare overhaul was designed specifically to give the government more control of the healthcare industry and effectually more control of the lives of citizens of the country. Recent revealings about the IRS and NSA disregard for fundamental rights of Americans give us a clearer picture of intentions of the federal government. There’s probably a lot of good reasons, including the force feeding of Obamacare to healthcare recipients (i.e. everyone), to be concerned about the trend.

So, to answer the question, “Can Obamacare succeed?” I’d respond with a resounding “No!”

And that’s a good thing. Obamacare has already metastasized, but with some aggressive treatment, hopefully we can kill it.

What’s left for those of us in the medical industry is to figure out how to help lawmakers gut what’s there and start over with something that is designed to be constructive for American citizens and businesses.