President Barack Obama’s national health care scheme — Obamacare — became law one year ago last week, and if it is allowed to stand, it poses a danger to the health, freedom and economic well-being of all Americans.
For the first time in U.S. history, the federal government will force you to purchase health insurance. Not just any insurance, but one approved by a government bureaucrat.
The proponents of this law do not seem to understand or care about the consequences.
They do not care if you cannot afford it. They do not care if you have a plan you like better. They do not care about the effect this will have on our struggling economy, or that it adds to our already crippling debt. Obamacare will ultimately lead to harmful results. In fact, it already has. And the more we learn about it, the more problems we discover.
Of course, during the so-called debate about this bill, we were famously told not to worry about what was in it, that we’d learn about it later. Here’s what we’ve learned.
We’ve learned there are new taxes and regulations on business estimated to cost billions of dollars per year.
We’ve learned the administration promise that you can “keep your own plan” was a lie.
The American people are also beginning to see the very real consequences of this big-government meddling. In the past year, premiums for health insurance have increased. Businesses have started to drop health coverage for their employees and even lay people off because of the costs associated with Obamacare’s mandates and regulations. A few days ago, the CEO of Starbucks, once a supporter of the measure, said the effect of it will be too great for businesses to deal with.
Even the administration is quietly, begrudgingly noting the problems with its own job-killing bill. That’s why the administration has issued more than 1,000 waivers from provisions of the law to big businesses, unions and even states, seemingly realizing the unfeasible burden it would place on them. Recently there have been reports of a controversy brewing over the administration admitting to fudging the savings figures when it was selling its health care plan to the public. As we now know, it will cost much more than the administration claimed it would, and it still contains regulations and provisions that we have yet to uncover the full extent of.
All this says to me is that this big-government attempt at fixing our health care problems is doing just the opposite. It is making things worse. And if it is not repealed, we will end up trying to fight back even bigger problems than we currently face.
As a doctor I have had firsthand experience with the vast problems facing health care in America. Like other areas of the economy where the federal government wields its heavy hand, health care is overregulated and in need of serious market reforms. But many see bigger government as the solution to this problem, as if more regulation and more bureaucracy is going to solve it. Socialist medicine does not work because socialism does not work.
When people blame the current crisis on the free market, they are making a grave intellectual error. We have not even remotely tried a free market in health care. We put layer upon layer of rules and mandates on companies. We limit the choices available to consumers. We allow a distortion of the market by discouraging the consumer from having any stake in the cost of the care. Capitalism hasn’t been tried in health care.
America thrived for most of its history because we were the only country that rewarded innovation in the marketplace. The solutions we seek to our health care problems should therefore offer more freedom, not less. Stifling innovation with laws like Obamacare that overregulate businesses and exacerbate our debt problem can only lead to worse outcomes for a greater number of people. More freedom to choose and innovate will once again make our health care the best in the world.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is ranking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging.