We the People of the United States received some of the “change” voted for during the last election cycle. Of course I’m talking about the passage of President Obama’s health care reform bill last month. I admit I haven’t personally read and understood all 2,409 pages of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But since no one who voted for it did either I don’t see why that should prevent my comments today.
What I find particularly interesting are the polls a week after signing which show a growing majority of Americans continue to disagree with its passage.So why the disconnect between the votes of our elected representatives and the clear will of the American public? Maybe it has something to do with the growing understanding of what’s really in the law — and some of the long-term health, financial, and free choice implications that we and our children will face as a result.
Here are literally just a few of the substantial negative impacts:
Health Savings Accounts — These used to have no cap, but are now limited to $2,500 per year starting in 2013. The penalty for using HSA money for unapproved purchases has doubled from 10% to 20%. Unapproved purchases will now include non-prescription over-the-counter medicines starting next year.2
Home health services — Significant cuts to home health care services funding mean many folks, especially in rural areas, are going to find themselves forced into hospital settings when they can no longer get the care they need at home. Cuts begin next year and increase in 2014 and 2015.
Increased regulation — While many applaud increased government regulation of insurance companies and the medical industry in general, there is a real downside. Increased government regulation historically has increased both costs and inefficiencies in virtually every industry ever regulated. Many doctors have already indicated they may leave the field due to increased regulation coupled with mandated lower payments for service.
Loss of personal liberty & choice — Some Americans really do choose to opt out of health insurance coverage, but will now face fines in the form of tax penalties of $695 or 2.5% of income (whichever is higher) starting in 2014. On the other hand, those who choose to purchase a high end insurance plan also get penalized with a 40% tax starting in 2018.
Clearly healthcare is changing in significant ways. You’ll likely pay more than ever before for health insurance premiums as insurance companies are forced to take on more risk. At the same time it may become harder than ever to gain access to a dwindling supply of physicians. I won’t even go into how much this will cost our country financially.
Vice President Biden was caught on-mic during the signing of the health care bill saying, “This is a big f***ing deal.” Yes, Mr. Vice President, you’re right. The federal government takeover of American healthcare is a “big f***ing deal.” We the People will be sure to grade Congressional report cards accordingly this November and those of the Executive branch in 2012. Since we remain, so far, a constitutional republic, “change” may be coming real soon to the offices of those who voted for this ill conceived law.
This law may be overturned in the courts or by a future Congress. Or it may not. So take good care of your health. Finding a good doctor to see you when you get sick may become increasingly challenging in the years ahead.
1 ABC News. Poll: Most Americans Remain Against Health Care Overhaul. April 2, 2010.
2 Star-Ledger Wire Services. How the health care reform will affect flexible-spending accounts. April 2, 2010.