Tuesday, November 05, 2013 • 12:00 AM Comments (14)

Between the Lines: Affordable Care?

Obamacare and Romneycare both miss the mark.

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Last week was a big one for Boston—a big week for all Massachusetts. All New England, really.

Of course, most of the fanfare came as a result of the Red Sox World Series win. But it’s also not every day that the Bay State gets a visit from the president. With his visit to Boston on Wednesday, Oct. 30, President Obama hoped to take full advantage of the layered connections between New England and its beloved baseball team and between the Boston Red Sox franchise and heathcare reform (aka Romneycare) in Massachusetts.

The timing of the visit, “on the day the Red Sox would go on to win the World Series, was particularly apt,” noted Jonathan Cohn in his Oct. 31 New Republic column. “As almost everybody knows by now, the Red Sox organization promoted the Massachusetts health reforms, sponsoring efforts to enroll people and even having players appear in ads directly addressing the young, healthy people who might think insurance was unnecessary.” After weeks of bad news about the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), the White House hoped to plead for patience by reminding us that Romneycare was a bust at first, too.

As a public relations move, Obama’s visit to Boston may have been helpful to his political cause: to appear confident in the face not only of continued carping from Republicans in Congress, but growing frustration and disappointment from the small percentage of Americans most immediately affected by the ACA and its badly functioning website. Sadly, the comparison of Obamacare to Romneycare is not only wrong, it’s beside the point to many of us.

Cohn, who tends to favor this White House, explained the difference between the two healthcare reforms in his column: “In Massachusetts, political, business, and health care leaders were united behind the plan. It may not have been their idea of what health care reform should look like, but they understood the value... .”

President Obama’s experience with reform at the national level is a far cry from what Mitt Romney encountered in Massachusetts—a point Obama’s critics, including Romney, are now seizing on, attacking Obama for being ambitious enough to think he could pull off a similar reform on a national level.

In the meantime, many of us in the Bay State, even if we favor the move to insure the uninsured, continue to see our premiums and co-payments rise and the quality of our coverage and care fall. While Romneycare helps lower-income people with subsidies and forces people who used to opt out of buying market insurance to pay premiums, it has done little to improve the quality of health care for most of us. Its success is partial and mostly political.

Comments (14)
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Luckily the federal government has a proven track record of handling large scale operations in a more efficent way than the private sector. Pay no mind to the non-working website - it's not like that should be the easiest part of facilitating 1/6th of the country's economy. Inserting a a federal bureaucracy between you and your doctor can only help the system and drive down costs. #forward

Posted by k on 11.7.13 at 10:05

Well, k, the private sector in this particular case has not helped things at all. Our heath care is something like thirty fifth best but our costs are number one. Go USA! It does need addressing somehow and letting the prvate sector insert a bureaucracy between you and your doctor to insure they turn a profit has not worked.

Posted by SDudgens on 11.7.13 at 11:25

I know you like to argue with me just to do it but why would you think an ADDITIONAL layer of bureaucracy would help? Put it this way, if the number one selling point of your healthcare plan is that people can keep their private insurance if they like it, that's not a great sign for what you're selling. Not to mention the fact that it was a blatant lie.

There is an alternate solution (for those that accept non-government solutions to problems) and that's separating insurance from employment and opening up competition across state lines.

Posted by k on 11.8.13 at 6:58

Hey k, I don't neccesarily like to argue with you for its own sake. I just think you like to provoke. Plus you're wrong! :)

Maybe it's surprising- but I think your suggestion is not too unreasonable in the current climate. But the real problem won't be addressed by that or by the ACA- when making money is tied to delivery of health care, patients' interests are not served well, corporate bottom lines are served well and the rest of us be damned. How can it be any other way in a profit-driven enterprise? It's unavoidable, and it's hurting us, not helping.

Posted by SDudgens on 11.8.13 at 8:32

Every product in our lives that gets more affordable over time is the result of competition. The desire for profit drives that competition to get consumer dollars. So reality rejects your notion. I have a good deal on my State Farm car insurance because they want my money and have competitive prices toward that goal. It's not because they are nice people who car about me. This is human nature. And pay no nevermind to your heroes on the left who make these profit-hating statements while they themselves are extremely wealthy.

Posted by K on 11.8.13 at 9:33

Try to catch the subtle distinction here, k-

Profit is a great thing to base an economy on, because greed works. It's reliable. It's built in to people.

Profit is not a great thing to mix with your health care, because you can't count on corporate boards and CEO's to resist the temptation to put profit/greed before the health of the faceless millions they insure.

See how that's different? A system based on, you know, health makes a lot more sense than tying in profit that increases the less you insure/pay for. Easy to see where that leads.

Posted by SDudgens on 11.8.13 at 10:49

It's also true that competition doesn't always lead to lower prices. Left to their own devices, companies naturally try to create monopolies and charge more. That's what the whole regulation thing is for, see?

Here's a good example. How much do you pay for broadband vs. the rest of the world? Let's ask the BBC.

Home broadband in the US costs far more than elsewhere. At high speeds, it costs nearly three times as much as in the UK and France, and more than five times as much as in South Korea.

Although there are several national companies, local markets tend to be dominated by just one or two main providers.

"We deregulated high-speed internet access 10 years ago and since then we've seen enormous consolidation and monopolies, so left to their own devices, companies that supply internet access will charge high prices, because they face neither competition nor oversight."


But sure, by all means, let's put our healthcare at the mercy of the market. If it was going to solve everything it would have by now, eh?

Posted by SDudgens on 11.8.13 at 10:55

Explain where it is written that APPLE can not make all the profits they want? Do they not encourage other companies to step up? If you level the playing feild you always lower expectations. Look at what the Dems have done with giving free money away to the poor. More Americans are poor now than when Bush was president, more food stamps, and now 93 million people lose their perfectly fine coverage, so that 40 million can get insurance for very cheap or free. Makes no sense Dudgens. You wont agree because facts are no match for your good intentions :)

Posted by Ammy on 11.9.13 at 13:32

SDudgens... I never said we should have no regulations to prevent monopolies (you love that straw man).... incidentally, what exactly is government but a monopoly? Anyhow.

Healthcare is not unique.... it's a service. If it doesn't work, why are so many people pissed about losing their private coverage? Why is that such a sticking point that the president repeatedly lied to us about what his program would do?

Lastly.... you make the false argument that the market should have worked by now... for most it has.... but for others there is the solution of opening up competition across state lines.

You're winning the argument against your straw man. The discussion you and I are having is a different story.

Posted by k on 11.11.13 at 6:50

This is like the dumbest game of wack-a-mole ever. Probbly no point. But what the heck? Might as well waste a few minutes.

Ammy- nobody said companies can't make all the money they want LEGALLY, but monopolies aren't legal. If you think the Dems are 'giving free money away to the poor,' there's nothing I can say to change your mind about anything, so I hope you enjoy that thought. The idea of poverty as some kind of gravy train defies belief unless you drink a whole lot of tea.

K- that is not a straw man, buddy. It is just a reply to what you said- that competition drives prices down. The inevitable urge to create monopolies complicates that idea. I agree the competition drives prices down most of the time, but it seems kind of stupid to trust your health to a system where profit increases the less medical care companies offer people. Are we supposed to believe corporate boards are going to say 'let's cut down the profit margin so our customers get better health care'? Better hold your breath for that one. It is hard to keep up the idea that for-profit health insurance is 'working for most people' wh2en our healthcare is 35th or 36th in the world but our costs are highest. If that's working, I would hate to see what would happen if it was broken.

Posted by SDudgens on 11.11.13 at 8:35

"The inevitable urge to create monopolies complicates that idea"

Not complicated at all. It's called regulation. Just like all other industries, regulations are and can be in place to prevent that. Wow.... your whole argument hinges on this? haha.

You could make the EXACT same argument about car insurance or any other kind of insurance where companies would rather not pay claims than pay claims. It's called competition. Seriously, this is just crazy that you can't see that comparison.

Posted by k on 11.11.13 at 10:36

"It's bad enough with cars- why put your health at stake?"

What are you talking about? You get in an accident, Geico pays for the repair. Please explain all of these people getting screwed out of repairs.

The bottom line is the economic laws of choice and competition apply here and a one-size-fits-all government approach is not the answer. Competition across state lines, HSAs, and free choice can help this issue.

The idea that our federal gov't, who is bankrupting social security among other things, can help drive down the price of healthcare by getting in the middle is idiotic.

Posted by k on 11.11.13 at 15:00

"I don't think the government should get in the middle of the health insurance industry. That's why I don't think the ACA is too bright a plan."

Then why the bleep are you bugging me? Go away, troll.

Posted by k on 11.12.13 at 6:45

Why am I buggin you? Because of what I do think is a bright plan- single payer. That sentence you quoted isn't about gubmint being bad, it's about health insurance as industry being bad. It has proven itself for many many years as a great source of declining services, higher costs, and mediocre care compared to the rest of the industrialised world. ACA might or might not help a little, but it can't help a lot because it is the same old thing. Only some version of single payer can fight those trends.

Posted by SDudgens on 11.12.13 at 9:02



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