March 23, 2010

What will the future look like under Obamacare?  Not good, according to Michael Tanner, senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

The bill will cost more than advertised.  It won’t be long before Congress is shocked — shocked! — to discover that health care reform is going to cost a lot more than expected.  Take Medicare, for example:

  • When it was instituted in 1965, it was estimated that the cost of Medicare Part A would be $9 billion by 1990.
  • In actuality, it was seven times higher – $67 billion.
  • In 1987, Medicaid’s special hospitals subsidy was projected to cost $100 million annually by 1992, just five years later; it actually cost $11 billion, more than 100 times as much.

Insurance premiums will keep rising.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, insurance premiums will double in the next few years. The bill will do nothing to diminish that increase. In fact, for the millions of Americans who get their insurance through the individual market, rather than from an employer, this bill will raise premiums by 10-13 percent more than if we do nothing. Young and healthy people can expect their premiums to go up even more.

The quality of care will be worse.  Doctors’ reimbursements for providing care will be squeezed, making it harder to find a doctor.

  • A new survey in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that 46 percent of doctors may give up their practice in the wake of this bill.
  • While that is probably exaggerated, many doctors will likely decide to reduce their patient loads or retire.
  • In Massachusetts, after the passage of Romneycare, the wait to see a primary care physician increased from 33 days to 52 days.

The Left will keep pushing for more.  Faced with rising costs and higher premiums, not to mention millions still uninsured, Democrats will blame the “evil” insurance companies and demand further reform.

Republicans won’t really try to repeal it.  Republicans will run this fall on a promise to repeal this deeply unpopular bill, and will likely reap the political advantages of that promise. But in reality there is little chance of their following through.  Once an entitlement is in place, it becomes virtually impossible to take away.

Michael D. Tanner, “Our Future Under Obamacare,” Cato Institute, (article appeared in National Review Online March 20, 2010).

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