The last time I wrote about our country’s trek towards nationalized healthcare was December 2013. The journey was just beginning and opinions were bandied about by pundits and opponents alike, both sides thinking they might have some say in the final decision.
We’re three years down the pike and it hasn’t turned out the way many of its proponents thought it would. Many still staunchly defend the concept while they decry the actuality that is the higher deductibles, loss of their chosen caregivers, and escalating premiums. Lucky for them, the party line they keep a firm grasp on gives them the insurance companies to blame. Unfortunately, this is a red herring. The companies have been forced to comply with specific requirements by the government and offer coverage that is overly comprehensive to every person willing to pay for a policy. One example is women well past the child-bearing age who are still paying for prenatal care. They’re paying for it, of course, for someone else.
Just an aside: If you have never watched the movie “Idiocracy”, you should. You’ll laugh, until you realize what you are laughing at. Like this little tidbit…a doctor of the future.
Yes, insurance has always been based on the theorem known as the “law of large numbers“, which has always been said to purport, mathematically, that the larger the pool of those included (in any activity, not just insurance), the more accurately an outcome can be predicted. It’s why insurance companies want as big a share of whatever market they are selling to, be it for auto, home or health insurance. So what bigger pool could there be than the whole of the country?
Why, then, do some companies go under anyway? Is it because they don’t get a big enough share, or is it the human factor, in the end, that does them in?
I’ve been in the insurance business for thirty years now and there has been a huge shift in the attitudes of customers. Back in the beginning, I would explain how insurance worked and it made sense to most of them. Nowadays, they may listen as I explain, but most simply don’t care. It seems like a purposeful obtuseness that I come up against more often than not anymore. You’ve heard the saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”? These days, the rude, nasty, wheel gets what they want.
The designers of the Affordable Care Act believe they can circumvent the human factor that might cause their socialist crazy train to derail. Fines for not purchasing coverage are going up and there’s talk of forced sign-ups of the uninsured during emergency room visits (which have not decreased as predicted). The rub is this: you can’t deny human nature. Any time you try to force human beings to do something they don’t want to do, they are going to find workarounds.
We were recently looking at job offerings with our child who is about to graduate from college. There were a number of great positions being offered that seemed to suit someone new to the job market. Yet, as we read the job descriptions, we realized many of them ended with the same notation: 19.5 hours per week. These were not fast food jobs. They were not offerings for a summer job. These were good, entry-level positions with well-known companies, the type of job that could lead to a career. And yet, the hours they offered were just under the limit at which they would have to offer healthcare. Imagine that. How can that happen, you say? Because an employer can’t ask you if you have your own health coverage and then hire you for, let’s say, a forty hour week. If you work for twenty hours or more (full time), and they employ more than fifty people, they are required to offer coverage to 95% of their FULL TIME employees. Here’s a breakdown of the penalties they now face if the fail to do so. Did the founders of forced health care not imagine that this would be one of the results of the ACA? I know opponents of the law predicted something like this happening. Remember the chatter about how many jobs would be lost because of the ACA?
Perhaps this is the new paradigm. Our young folk will spend time getting that college degree and then fight over entry-level part-time positions while they continue to live at home. These positions will become the new probationary period for employers. As the years tick by, those deemed worthy of that pricey permanent position with benefits will be moved up as the retirees on the other end move out. And those who don’t make the grade? Well, I’m sure the single payer system we’re headed for will take care of that.
My guess is that, eventually, we will see new laws put in place that speak to this issue. The thought of what those might look like frightens me more than the ACA itself. Think Anti Dog Eat Dog Rule and 10-289. If you haven’t read Atlas Shrugged yet, you should. Think it can’t happen? Think again. How long before this type of thinking is applied to health care? How long before it’s applied to something else? When do we say enough is enough?