Obamacare: The best or a mess?

picBy Hannah Bleau | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Oct. 1, 2013 was a thrilling day for the nation. That was that popular consensus of most media outlets, at least. The moment the Obamacare began to take full effect was supposed to be a day of joy and triumph. Finally, the American people would get what they both desired and deserved. There would be affordable healthcare for everyone — men, woman, children and illegal immigrants (I wish I was kidding about the last one).

We hear all of this on the news. “This is going to be great for young people!” But let’s face it, who can we trust? Is Obamacare an unmitigated failure? The media continually tells young people to be excited about it, but why? What’s their motive? Why are they pleading to young people, appealing to us through lame stereotypes, heartbreaking sob stories, and Ryan Gosling ads? It is this: The fate of Obamacare rests on our shoulders, and we’re not doing the best job at ensuring its success.

Here’s the deal.

What exactly is Obamacare?
This is a question that plagues many of us. We all say we know what it is, but we should not be too embarrassed to admit that we don’t completely understand it. Heck, most members of Congress don’t completely understand it (or even read it before they passed it, for that matter). Who could forget the infamous remark from then House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi? “But we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy.” That’s always comforting.

In the most simplistic terms, Obamacare works off of a series of exchanges. Exchanges are “pools” of private insurance companies, and these companies decide to put their products in the pools. Essentially, they are policies offered by private companies dictated by government regulatory edicts. In addition, Obamacare expanded the Medicaid program, making it easier for people to sign up into the already bloated system. People who don’t make the cut for Medicaid then get put into the private exchanges; already the system puts more people on the government dole.

What was supposed to happen the first day?
Six people signed up the first day. Six. The progressives had high hopes for Obamacare. The government had “modest” estimates for Obamacare sign ups. They were actually hoping for 7 million people on the system by March. Let’s just say, they’re a little off track. As of Nov. 2, 2013, 106,000 people total signed up, (that’s less than 1 percent of the American population), but that number is not private insurance alone. This number also includes people signing up for the new expanded Medicaid program, which many students are signing up for. This creates a problem. If people are signing up for Medicaid, who is offsetting the costs of new people in the pools?

What about the website?
The federal website, healthcare.gov, cost over $640 million (now over $1 billion are invested in it to fix the “bugs”) and took three years to build. Now, I’m no web designer, but I have a seriously hard time believing website creation would cost that much. Can anyone say, “wasteful spending?”

In addition, the website requires one to give a boatload of personal information (account information, social security numbers, first born, etc.). Already, reports have been made of personal information being lost through the website. On the other hand, other innovators have created similar sites, (like healthsherpas.com) costing substantially less and only requiring a zip code. These websites seem to work more efficiently and effectively.

Why are private insurance companies so anxious?
Insurance companies are upset because the federal government is mandating them to cover everyone while simultaneously telling them what their plans need to have. Another reason companies are upset is because of the “requirements of insurance.” Under Obamacare, companies can no longer sell insurance plans that fail to meet the standards of the new government requirements. Hypothetically speaking, if you were a 56-year-old man who comfortably lives life playing bingo and volunteering at homeless shelters, your plan would have to include maternity, drug abuse and mental health coverage- whether you like it or not.

Essentially, companies are caught in crossfire. They’re getting blamed for canceling insurance policies, but in reality, the government mandates are forcing them to cancel coverage. No matter what advocates of Obamacare say, insurance companies are not at fault for cancelations. The government is.

Why are Americans so upset?
Many Americans are upset because of the already pending problem of government intrusion in their personal lives. Premiums are not getting lower. They’re getting higher, but proponents of Obamacare justify the rising prices by explaining, “you’re getting a better plan.” Our government is turning into a nanny state, making decisions for you because they think they know what’s best. As President Reagan said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'”

Where do young people come in?
Well, my fellow students, the whole success of Obamacare depends on us, because we’re the ones financing it. The efficiency of the entire system relies on students going into the exchanges and purchasing healthcare. Obamacare needs a pool of healthy young people to pay for something they don’t need in order to finance the rest. Basically, your money will pay for someone else, but there’s a problem. Students aren’t buying it. Most students either go without insurance or stay on parents’ plan. The government plans to curtail this possibility by mandating everyone to buy insurance. If students (or anyone, for that matter) refuse, they will be forced to pay a penalty (which would be cheaper than buying the insurance itself). That penalty will be collected from your tax returns (you know all the lovely money they take out of your paycheck? Yeah, you won’t be getting some of that back).

Why should we care?
Instead of telling you why you should care, let me tell you why I care. I don’t want to buy insurance through the federal government. I don’t want to pay for people who won’t get their own insurance, and I also don’t think the government has the authority to force me to purchase something. I’m not some tin hat conspiracy nut, but this whole system has led me to questions. Now that the precedent is set, what’s stopping the government from forcing the American people to purchase other things they deem as “necessary?”

The actual Affordable Health Care Act is 2,700 pages (not including the additional 13,000 pages of restrictions and regulations that are constantly changing). Public health care is a complicated endeavor, but to put it in perspective, the Constitution of the United States- the document that laid the foundations for the most prosperous, free country in the history of the world- was only about four pages long. Doesn’t that put it in perspective of how overly complicated and bureaucratic government is?

Young people don’t seem to be really excited about Obamacare. It’s a complicated mess. The government is piling people in with pre-existing conditions, and it’s depending on young people to offset the cost. What happens when we don’t oblige? Obamacare will fall apart, and they know this. So my fellow students, empty those pockets. Sign up or pay the penalty, because after all, the government says it know what’s best for you.

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