TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Editorials

October 4, 2013

Obamacare arrives in Kentucky: Prepare for sticker shock, buyer’s remorse

CORBIN — Gov. Steve Beshear got warm and fuzzy about Obamacare’s first official day on Tuesday when Kentucky’s government-run health exchange website went live — calling it “one of the most exciting days I have had since I have been governor.”

Most Americans don’t share Beshear’s enthusiasm.  

A CNN poll shows support in September for Obamacare plummeting to below 40 percent — down from 51 percent in January.

Count Texas Sen. Ted Cruz among the opposition – as indicated by his recent 21-hour speech on the floor of the United States Senate.

Cruz included this quote from the Bluegrass Institute: “Obamacare will devastate Kentucky’s already-struggling economy. We already have entire areas where expectant mothers in rural areas must drive two hours to see an OB-GYN. But there will be nowhere that any Kentucky family or business can go to hide from the increased costs and destruction of our personal liberties resulting from this policy of redistribution.”

It’s true.

All Kentuckians will be forced to join government-run health exchanges or pay a fine. There is nowhere to hide, not even in other states; all states will be forced to participate.

No doubt, the very sick, the indigent and those with preexisting medical conditions who have been unable to find insurance will get low-cost coverage. But what kind of coverage will such an overloaded health-care system ultimately provide?

And who will pay for covering the additional millions enrollees?

Obamacare’s plan is to force healthy and productive citizens to purchase plans they don’t want with services they don’t need and won’t use – in order to pay for the uninsured.

Be warned.

Kentuckians “who want options and a minimum amount of insurance are going to be in shock at the increase in their premiums – if they have been paying any attention to what they are now,” said University of Kentucky economist John Garen, Ph.D. “A variety of services will be cut way down and the premiums are going to go way up.”

Garen, chairman of the Bluegrass Institute Board of Scholars, offers insightful analysis of Obamacare’s state-run exchanges in his report entitled “Insurance Exchanges in Kentucky and the Health Care Reform Bill” at www.freedomkentucky.org.  

True statesmen would find a way to scrap this bad law and start over with an approach that actually seeks specific solutions for specific problems plaguing our health-care policies.

—There are uninsured people with pre-existing conditions who are truly poor and destitute that need access to higher-risk pools and quality care. So let’s find a way to create those pools.

—There are employees who lose their coverage when they change jobs. Why not give them the same tax deduction available to their employers, allowing them to shop for a plan that best fits their situation and that follows them to a new job?

—Health care – and coverage – costs are climbing. Why not allow Kentuckians to cross state lines to find better deals? This would create a competitive environment that drives down prices, expands services and improves quality.

Applying workable solutions to specific problems while allowing individuals maximum ability to shop for insurance — wherever, however and with whomever they wish — is the most compassionate and effective way to improve and expand coverage.

By taking a one-size-forced-upon-all approach, Obamacare’s architects make it clear: this is not about improving the nation’s health.

Rather, it’s about advancing the redistribution ideology of politicians who shut their ears to the cries of the productive, and instead focus on catering to those who have discovered they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury.

But in this case, even the takers might not get what they expected.

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at jwaters@freedomkentucky.com. Read previously published columns at www.bipps.org

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