When Reality Gets In The Way Of Promises

Remember the promise that ObamaCare would eventually make health care cheaper for everyone because universal coverage would make us all healthier? Well, it seems as if we tend to be as healthy as we want to be regardless of whether or not we have universal coverage.

On Friday the Daily Beast reported that a study on Oregon’s Medicaid expansion showed that the people who were now eligible for medical treatment had no improvement in their health (as measured by basic health indicators such as like blood pressure or cholesterol).

The article reports:

health insurance doesn’t actually improve access to necessary treatment that much.  If someone else covers the cost, it can help with the financial burden of health care.  But uninsured people will mostly find a way for the most important treatments, the ones we know improve health, from stitches to control bleeding, to antibiotics, to blood pressure medication.  It’s the expensive stuff on the frontier–the stuff that’s as likely to be useless, or harmful, as it is to help–that the uninsured mostly forego. 

When you consider the fact that hospitals are not permitted to turn away patients because of their inability to pay, this makes sense.

The article concludes:

…But I think it’s instructive that the political campaign for Obamacare leaned so heavily on claims about death and untreated suffering.  Whether or not we should provide that sort of insurance, I don’t think that Obamacare would have passed if its backers had said “The best study available shows that we’ll probably get a nice reduction in depression and catastrophic expenses, but no statistically significant improvement in diabetes, mortality, or cardiovascular health.”

That should give us pause.  We passed a big, complicated piece of legislation on the assumption that Medicaid expansions like Oregon would make us healthier–so much helathier that we’d obviously be able to measure it.  It just made gut sense, after all.  And that shouldn’t just make us pause and think about Obamacare. What other policies are we pulling out of our intestinal loops?

Frankly, I think the best thing the government could do for the health of Americans would be to get out of healthcare. Repeal ObamaCare, and set up a system that subsidizes low income people who need insurance and let the free market run healthcare. There would have to be some basic guidelines set up for pre-existing conditions, but the healthcare industry knows much more about healthcare than the government does. Let’s let them take care of America.

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