By Tim Spiess
November 11th, 2016
One of the most popular political tactics is to demonize or villainize one’s opponent or some opponent’s policy, rule or law. This can be done in different ways, but one way to do it is to rename it to something ominous, unpopular or evil. This has been done with the Affordable Care Act or ACA law that was passed in March of 2010. It has been named “Obamacare” which, for those who demonize President Obama (most of the people in the U.S. who take the label “conservative”), means it must be evil. This is indicative of where the United States people are heading…into acrimonious, non-reasoned division and ultimately failure of the nation. This was quite obvious during the 2016 presidential election cycle and now after Trump was elected, by the harsh, divisive or even violent rioting taking place after the election.
The ACA’s goal is good. Here is the ACA’s goal, “ACA’s goal is to give more Americans access to affordable, quality health insurance and to reduce the growth in U.S. health care spending.” Can the reader find anything wrong with that? If you can, then either you are not a reasonable person or you would personally benefit somehow if the ACA goes away. The truth is that very few people have even looked at the facts about the ACA. A good starting place is here - http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/facts-and-features/key-features-of-aca/
One can argue that the means or policies that were used to try and implement the primary goal of the ACA were executed poorly, but no reasonable person can say, ‘the goal is bad’ unless you are an arrogant wealthy person.
Now, given the ‘winning side’ (Republicans/conservatives) demonization against the evil enemy of the ‘losing side’ (Democrats/liberal), there is talk of repealing the ACA, since the ACA was created by the ‘enemy’. But wait, the fact is that the ACA’s goal is both noble and necessary, unless of course you want to take most or all of the average U.S. citizen’s disposable income away and give it to the physicians, hospitals, insurance companies and corporations.
Here are some personal facts I have experienced over the past several years. I was employed by a large corporation – perhaps the largest corporation in the health care business, McKesson – when the ACA was signed into law and implemented. The health insurance I was given by McKesson – which company was boasting about spending BILLIONS of dollars per year for research and development – was very bad. It had relatively high premiums and very high deductibles and out of pocket costs. For example, if we (my wife and I) had two consecutive years where one of us needed surgery year one and the other year two (outpatient, not major surgery), we would have had to pay approximately $24,000 after insurance due to a $12,000 per year deducible!
So, under the multi-billion dollar company’s health insurance offerings, my wife and I would only go to a health care provided if we REALLY needed to, and we prayed that we would not need an emergency room visit which would surely take away any disposable income we might have had. Fortunately, our children were covered under a MUCH superior State health insurance plan ('oh no, government health insurance cannot be better than private health insurance!').
When I lost my work at the big Fortune 50 Company, I was concerned about health care for my wife and myself. Fortunately, the ACA made Market Place BETTER insurance plans available AND AFFORDABLE! We have been using an ACA market place health insurance plan for several years now, and for the first time in 20 years, we can afford good access to health care at an affordable price!
Now we have to be concerned about Trump taking that away.
So, how many of the “forgotten, middle class American’s” that Trump is talking about, have about $20,000 lying around waiting to be given to physicians (who have very high salaries and earnings), hospitals, and corporations? And yet, that is what Trump is talking about when he says “we’ve got to end Obamacare”… he is talking about a transfer of wealth FROM the “forgotten, average middle class American” TO physicians, hospitals, corporations and insurance companies. And just so it is clear, the “forgotten, average middle class American” is NOT a ‘white collar’ worker…they are not physicians or corporate executives or hospital administrators or Wall Street players or investors.
One of Trump’s suggestions for fixing the health care system is Health Savings Accounts or HSAs. The concept is simply to encourage saving for health care expenses with tax-advantages savings. You want to talk about essentially no help at all! Paying a few less tax dollars is somehow going to cover the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars expended?! So, the billionaire (the President elect) assumes that a family of four - with a household income of between $24K to $78K, the “forgotten middle class American” - will have hundreds of dollars available each month to contribute to their HSA! Really?! Wrong assumption.
I am not against any particular economic or wealth distribution system of the world except those that take advantage of the weak and less able. Capitalism and socialism both have positives and negatives. One of socialism weaknesses is not rewarding extra-hard workers, thus de-motivating entrepreneurism and innovation. Capitalism's primary weakness is it requires people to be ethical and compassionate in order for it to work well. Herein lies the fatal flaw for the U.S. and its capitalistic system. The wealthy people of the U.S. who own, run and profit from the corporations are not willing to share the wealth with their employees by giving them higher wages and good health insurance.
Greed and selfishness will ruin ANY people group and their economic system, and greed and selfishness currently characterize many of those in power in the U.S. Want proof? OK, here are the current wealth distribution facts regarding the U.S. “According to an analysis that excludes pensions and social security, the richest 1% of the American population in 2007 owned 34.6% of the country's total wealth, and the next 19% owned 50.5%. Thus, the top 20% of Americans owned 85% of the country's wealth and the bottom 80% of the population owned 15%.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wealth_in_the_United_States)
So, 1 percent of the American population owns 34.6% of the country’s total wealth, and that was in 2007. It is no doubt worse today, and will continue to get worse, especially when billionaire presidents talk about the “free market economy” being the be-all-end-all solution, oftentimes code language for powerful and greedy people hording inordinate amounts of wealth for their own personal benefit and pleasure. A “free market economy” is not truly free when the markets are dominated and controlled by the greed-motivated powerful. And capitalism's good aspects cannot make up for or overcome the greed of those who control the economic system(s) it is implemented in.
The bottom line is this - the ACA is a good and noble law which seeks to make affordable and quality health care available to all U.S. citizens. The ACA did not cause the high expenses and costs of the Medical industry in the U.S. If it has inefficient elements to it, then fix those elements, but don’t throw that which is good and right away using operational inefficiencies as your justification. For a billionaire - and the political party who backs him - to take away affordable quality health care from over 10 million of the “forgotten middle class Americans” would be wrong and economically harmful to over 10 million people.
Again, the problem regarding expensive health care is not the ACA’s fault, rather, it is the fault of all those in the medical industry who profit from it and don’t see a problem with charging thousands of dollars per hour rates for their services when the “forgotten middle class American” earns about $10-$30 per hour for his/her services. The PROBLEM is caring more about certain people's wealth than about other people's health. It really is that simple.
Please, be part of the solution instead of part of the problem...join the peaceful revolution!
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