Written by: Ben Atlas
President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), otherwise known as Obamacare, is intended to lower the cost of healthcare and reducing the number of uninsured Americans. While health expenditures are indeed higher in the United States, the PPACA is misguided for several reasons: 1) the United States has a superior health care system that will be harmed by Obamacare; 2) the number of uninsured Americans has been grossly exaggerated; and 3) Obamacare fails to reduce health costs.
Obamacare supporters rely on misleading and severely flawed data, particularly from the World Health Organization (WHO) report, to assert that U.S. quality of care is inferior. Most of the WHO ranking was based on equality of care, rather than quality. The WHO report also relied on differences that are not statistically significant, as well as “filling in” incomplete data to fit the authors’ agendas. Life expectancy estimates rank the U.S. near the bottom of developed nations, but when countries were standardized for instant death from murder, suicide, and high speed car accidents (deaths having nothing to do with health care), the U.S. had the best life expectancy. As for infant mortality, analysis of babies who are sick and actually need medical care shows the U.S. ranks near the top, behind only Sweden and Norway, countries with obvious population differences that elevate their ratings. On review of the peer-reviewed literature, the U.S. is factually superior in survival from cancer, access to new drugs and to safer, more accurate diagnostic technology, faster access to life-changing surgeries like hip replacements and cataracts, fastest access to specialists, and successful treatment for chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. According to medical journals, the U.S. has superior quality of care to all of those countries serving as models for Obamacare.
Obamacare supporters may still claim that it is scandalous that almost 17 percent of the population is uninsured, or a total of 50 million people. However, on review of the Census Bureau statistics, about ten million of uninsured are not citizens; about 8.5 million said they were uninsured but use government insurance; and about 13 million adults and another five million children are already eligible for government insurance but simply had not signed up for their insurance. The true number of Americans who are either uninsured or lack eligibility for existing insurance adds up to less than five percent of the population—clearly a number that does not justify radical reform of America’s health system.
Obamacare’s mandates on individuals to purchase insurance will be ineffective, as shown by past mandates including immunization before school enrollment, automobile insurance, income tax payment and use of seat belts, all of which have a rate of noncompliance of about fifteen percent—similar to the purported rate of uninsured. More importantly, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that millions of Americans will actually lose their existing insurance due to Obamacare, including from massive cuts to the Medicare Advantage program that alone will cause 7.4 million seniors to lose current coverage.
Finally, Obamacare is a significant burden on the economy. It is projected to raise, not reduce, health care expenditures. Obamacare further harms the economy by its punitive taxes on employers, drug and medical device manufacturers and investors. Millions of jobs will be lost as these companies shift operations overseas, while innovation will be stifled in medical technology, the key to the past half century of advances in medical care.
At its core, Obamacare is a significant centralization of health care toward the government and away from individuals and their families. This intrusion into one of the most personal areas of life is not only unacceptable in a free society, but it will harm what is the world’s leading medical care while failing to reduce costs, even in the estimates of the government itself. While reform of America’s health care is essential because of cost, Obamacare provides an unnecessarily extensive government program that causes more problems than it solves.