What if the health care law is struck down?
We'd go back to a deeply flawed system that leaves millions uninsured and facing ruinous health care costs.
This post comes from Rick Newman at partner site U.S. News & World Report.
Since the mandate is meant to expand the pool of people covered by health insurance, it makes other parts of the law possible, such as subsidies for people who can't afford insurance and a ban on denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Without the mandate, those provisions might be unsustainable and the whole law could effectively become moot.
If that happens, Republicans would gladly declare victory. But we'd revert to a health care system that was deeply flawed to start with and is now arguably in worse shape than when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law in 2010.
Republicans have railed against the individual mandate on the grounds that it infringes upon Americans' freedom and forces people to do something -- pay for health insurance -- that should be a matter of individual choice, not a government requirement. The past week's Supreme Court deliberations focused narrowly on whether Congress has the constitutional authority to require such a thing.
But lost in the lofty rhetoric is the scale of the original problem, which finally affected so many Americans that Obama was able to overcome decades of opposition and pass the most sweeping changes in the health care system since Medicare and Medicaid were created in 1965.
Post continues below.
As a reminder, here are a few of the basic problems with the U.S. health care system that Obamacare was meant to address:
One-sixth of the population lacks health insurance. In 2008, 45 million Americans had no health care coverage. Two years later (the most recent data available) that number had risen to 50 million, largely because insurance is typically tied to employment and joblessness soared during the recent recession.
Without insurance, health care costs can be ruinous. One study by Harvard researchers found that 62% of all personal bankruptcy filings were related to medical costs that overwhelm a family's budget. The numbers are probably worse now, since that study was done in 2007, before the recession put an additional 8 million Americans out of work.
People die because they lack insurance. A 2009 study found that a lack of insurance causes or contributes to the deaths of 45,000 Americans each year. Some people die because they put off getting treatment for conditions that worsen to the point of being fatal. People without insurance also tend to get lower quality care than those with coverage.
The high cost of health care distorts the labor market. We all know people who stay at a job they'd otherwise leave because they're afraid to give up health care benefits. That prevents some people from taking entrepreneurial risks or moving to jobs that might enhance their careers. Bearing the cost of employee health care also puts some U.S. companies at a disadvantage against competitors in Europe and Japan, where the government provides most coverage. Many U.S. companies offset the rising cost of health care benefits by limiting pay.
American health care is a bad bargain. Americans spend nearly twice as much per capita on health care as developed countries do on average, yet the United States ranks below average on many key quality indicators, including life expectancy and infant mortality.
Most trends are going in the wrong direction. The cost of health care is rising far faster than incomes, fewer families can afford coverage, and skyrocketing health care costs are the biggest threat to the federal government's solvency.
The Affordable Care Act, which mostly goes into effect in 2014, has flaws and probably wouldn't solve all these problems under any circumstances. It would extend coverage to perhaps 30 million additional Americans, for instance, but still leave some people uncovered. The ACA doesn't directly address the cost problem either, and it could take decades for the overall efficiency of the U.S. health care system to improve.
But it does address some important problems, and most Republicans who call for the repeal of the ACA aren't proposing a better alternative. For the most part, they simply seem to be advocating a return to the status quo ante, as if we had an effective health care system before Obama came along and ruined everything.
Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney at least has some experience with health reform, as Massachusetts passed a statewide program similar to the ACA in 2006, when Romney was governor. Romney's argument now is that health reform should happen at the state level, not the federal level.
But only a few states tried some sort of health reform before the ACA was passed, and the 26 Republican-led states that are backing the Supreme Court challenge seem to want to obstruct the whole idea. So at best, a few states might find a way to improve their health care systems in the absence of health care reform, with a patchwork of rules and standards that vary by state.
Other Republican plans for lowering health care costs and expanding coverage amount to a smattering of warmed-over proposals, such as caps on medical liability and expanded health savings accounts that, theoretically, would lower costs by creating a better free market dynamic in the market for health care. These ideas may have merit, but they've been around for years and never earned enough support to pass Congress.
Besides, pushing any Republican-backed health reform plan through Congress in the future would be at least as contentious as the Obama plan was when it barely passed in 2010. If the Supreme Court strikes down Obama's law, the fight over health care may just be getting started.
More on U.S. News & World Report and MSN Money:
In a television interview recently President Obama was asked if he and his family will be signing up for the New Health Care Program. Here is his answer " "
Thank you for listening.
You state, "But lost in the lofty rhetoric will be the scale of the original problem, which finally affected so many Americans that Obama was able to overcome decades of opposition and pass the most sweeping changes in the health care system since Medicare and Medicaid were created in 1965.". Democrats controlled the Senate, House, and Executive Office at the time. Obama could have passed anything he wanted...which is evident based on Pelosi's comment about voting on it now and reading it later. True, health care is a very important issue which affects millions of Americans and requires a comprehensive solution. The problem is that Obama has created incredible tension between those who pay most of the taxes in this country and those who receive these funds by using the rhetoric of pay your "fair share". That has made this discussion more about redistribution of wealth and individual rights than about health care, which is a shame.
It is a slippery slope when Congress can under the guise of "interstate commerce" decide that you must buy a product that cannot be sold now across state lines.
If Congress can mandate that you purchase something against your will, then they can force you to buy or contribute to anything. What next a religious group?
Congress is in effect forcing you to engage in commerce.
Healthcare costs are the highest in the world in the US because government sets prices through Medicare. Plain and simple. Prior to medicare, healthcare accounted for 6% of GDP, today that number exceeds 17%. Government is the problem, not the solution. Only the free market can keep costs down. We have done away with that.
Healthcare services will always be rationed. They are a limited resource. Be it via Price, Insurance companies, Healthcare personnel or government panels, this needs to be done.
If we were to have a single payor system (not a bad thing, provided the taxes collected are enough to cover costs), and EVERYONE were TAXED enough to cover the costs (see Medicare and Medicaid), it could work. But in the end it is socialist, as those that do not need or want the product are forced to pay for it so others benefit.
Once again, if the product is so good and compelling, let participation be voluntary. Otherwise stop limiting FREEDOM and LIBERTY.
Brutus: "This case should be decided in a matter of minutes and all 9 justices should be chastising Obama and the Congress for daring to pass such an egregious and unconstitutional assault on individual liberty."
Now we know the reason why we need a Republican in office this November. The President who will be in office will nominate a couple of more SCOTUS Justices.
What would life be like if we had a couple of more Sotomayors or Kagens on the court? Bad for people that want to live free and good for people that want to live on a Gov't dole.
Keep the few very popular and affordable portions of the bill, trash the rest.
We already require people to purchase car insurance, why is this any different?
Ans: 1. Driving is voluntary. 2. Auto insurance is regulated by the states, not the federal government. States have the right under the 10th amendment to regulate insurance. Some states don't require auto insurance at all. 3. The government can't create commerce where none existed, force you to participate and then regulate it. 4. The Constitution doesn't give this power to the federal government. The federal government is constrained by the constitution to limited powers ie defense, taxation, control of our boarders (how's that one working?).
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX. See delay times for other exchanges.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Thomson Reuters (click for restrictions). Real-time quotes provided by BATS Exchange. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Interactive Data Real-Time Services. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by SIX Financial Information.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Take an extra step before donating to a charity that claims to be helping tornado victims: Research them first.