COMMENTARY: Health Exchanges-Freedom for Fairness?
By Jim Waters, Bluegrass Institute
LEXINGTON, KY - Government health exchanges: Exchanging freedom for ‘fairness’? - By Jim Waters
The Obama administration claims the state health exchanges christened under its Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will ensure access to affordable health care for all.
But such exchanges are little more than a glorified Web site listing health-insurance plans that acquiesce to the multitude of costly mandates in President Obama’s health care law.
The reality is that these health exchanges merely serve to subsidize the irresponsible habits of the moochers who choose to lead unhealthy lifestyles on the government’s dime by providing virtually zero incentive to practice preventive care for one’s own health.
Meanwhile, those who choose healthier lifestyles are forced not only to purchase health plans containing services they neither want nor need, but also to pick up the check for the Twinkie eaters.
The Supreme Court barely finished announcing its recent affirmation of Obama’s unconstitutional health-care policy before Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear began pushing for a government-run exchange in the Bluegrass State.
Beshear, who never saw a Washington dollar or program he didn’t simply adore, was probably breathing a sigh of relief after the high court’s decision. He can now keep the $67 million he had already received from the federal government to set up such an exchange in Kentucky.
But before the governor moves forward, he should have to answer some questions that he likely would just as soon avoid:
•Why is $67 million needed to set up a health exchange website, and what kind of “return” will taxpayers receive on this exorbitant investment?
•Why do we need government exchanges when we already have private exchanges that need not adhere to an overlay of government’s expensive red tape?
•Isn’t the whole point of this health care law to provide “affordable care?” How does forcing additional rules on plans which drive up costs – such as prohibiting private insurers from charging higher rates for higher-risk patients – make this more “affordable” than privately run plans without all that red tape?
•Why does Beshear favor the government-exchange approach, which actually discourages the kind of health-insurance plans that reward healthy behavior through full coverage for catastrophic care, high deductibles and health savings accounts for smaller medical expenses – exactly the kind of plans we need?
The Kentucky Enquirer reported that State Rep. Arnold Simpson, D-Covington, believes the President’s plan – and presumably Beshear’s action, as well – ensures “everyone will pay their fair share.”
How is it “fair” to deny healthy Kentuckians the right to have a lower-costing plan than unhealthy citizens?
How is it “fair” to shut out private insurers who are unwilling to force the same costs for coverage on the healthy as they charge for the unhealthy? Is it “fair” to force insurers to cover those with – as supporters of the President’s plan spin it – “preexisting conditions” at the same rate as healthy consumers?
If that’s “fairness,” I’ll take my freedom – and a couple of Twinkies – instead.
In reality, the President’s “fairness plan” will actually discourage healthy behavior, resulting in fewer private insurers and more dependency on government (read: taxpayers) to foot health-care bills as more people get dumped into these exchanges.
But Beshear does not have to aid and abet Obama’s unpopular plan. He should return the $67 million and tell Washington: “If you want such an exchange in Kentucky, you will have to fund, create and administer it yourself.”
— Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read previously published columns at www.freedomkentucky.org/bluegrassbeacon.