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Monday, July 31, 2017

You’ve Heard the Saying

Getting caught up in the little details of Obamacare

You’ve heard the saying, “Don’t miss the forest for the trees,” right? That’s when someone is trying to make the point that you shouldn’t get so caught up in the small details that you fail to understand the bigger picture. Well, in the case of this whole health-care debacle in our country and the shenanigans in Congress, the “bigger picture” doesn’t mean a darn thing here without getting caught up in small details, and here’s what I mean:

I know that many think that anyone proposing the repeal of Obamacare is a heartless so-and-so, or an insensitive youknow-what. But Obamacare is already repealed – for all intents and purposes – because it’s collapsing under its own weight.

With or without any political party approval or bipartisan support, irrespective of the mainstream media’s stance, and regardless of how many protests are organized or members of Congress vocally express their distaste for President Trump – Obamacare is repealing itself.

The average health insurance premium on the individual market has soared by a staggering 75 percent – just in the past four years. Thirty-one million Americans can’t afford the deductibles because of these rising costs and have flat-out stopped paying the premiums. We were supposed to have saved $2,500 per year if Obamacare became law, but premium costs today are $2,000 more today than they were just in 2013, and double-digit premium increases are expected in 2018.

The reason for this is that health insurers lost over $2 billion dollars in 2016, and rather than expand coverage, these same insurers are pulling out of the exchanges set-up by Obamacare altogether (and just so you know, two-thirds of the exchanges have already gone out of business, too). Ironically, the exchanges were set up so people could “shop” for insurance plans, often with the help of government subsidies.

But for one out of three Americans today, there is no “shopping” for insurance plans, unless your idea of shopping is like when Henry Ford famously told his customers they could have any color they wanted, as long as it was black. You see, with so many health insurers leaving the marketplace, too many of us have only one choice of an insurer under Obamacare – and that means we have essentially no choice at all.

If you’re wondering if it could get any worse, the answer is yes.

The number of insurers applying to serve the federal marketplace has dropped 38 percent for 2018, and it’s now reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation that just over 25,000 people in Ohio, Indiana and Nevada are at risk of having no options in the exchanges next year.

To add even more confusion, we’re told that repealing Obamacare now will result in nearly 32 million uninsured in this country, but the Associated Press reports only around 10 million Americans are paying any Obamacare premiums, whatsoever.

But, some will interrupt here to say, isn’t some increase in the number of Americans with health insurance better than “nothing” at all? And, even though “Obamacare” is not perfect, isn’t it better now because you can’t be denied coverage for any reason, or be charged more based on your health status or gender, or be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions?

Yes, theoretically, yes. But if 31 million Americans can’t afford the deductibles because of rising costs, and millions of others have flat-out stopped paying the premiums for the very insurance policies intended to afford them health-care coverage, then hasn’t the care and comfort of the least among us only worsened?

And all under the pretense that something is better than nothing?

You see now why sometimes it’s better to see the trees, instead of the forest? Getting caught up in the details is not something that Congress has done in a very long time. And that explains a whole lot, doesn’t it?

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman and attorney. He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in The Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac.com.


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