Don't worry! They're working round the clock to fix it!
What exactly did you think government-run health insurance was going to be like?
The Obama Administration finds itself scrambling this week as its much-anticipated health care exchanges are stumbling out of the blocks with consumer confusion, system shutdowns and sticker shock over the actual cost of “free” health care.
Obama hilariously tried to claim in an interview with the AP yesterday that public interest far exceeded the government’s expectations. But is that really the problem? In Kansas, there are more than 360,000 people without health insurance, and one of that state’s congressmen, Republican Tim Huelskamp, reports that not a single Kansan has yet signed up.
Some of that is because the system is such a mess. Huelskamp says he actually tried to sign up but couldn’t navigate his way through it. Surely others tried too, but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the hassle.
“Folks are working round the clock and have been systematically reducing the wait times,” Obama assures us.
Tell me another one. If you think the wait time to sign up is bad, imagine what the wait times will be like for cancer treatments, or for emergency surgery, or for a physical.
This is what happens when you take a service and use politics to a) explode demand for it; while b) forcing providers to take all comers. You will get shortages. You will get doctors leaving the system. You will get premiums going through the roof. You will destroy quality.
You will do all this because markets work in certain ways, but politicians don’t like the way markets work, so they try to manipulate markets. They try to make things free that can’t be free, because it costs money to provide them. They try to make things irrelevant – like pre-existing conditions – that can’t be irrelevant. They try to tell you they can do all this without it costing you a lot of money, without quality suffering, without service suffering . . . and then when none of that works out, they say, oh, don’t worry, we’re working round the clock, this is not a problem.
But even Obama’s excuse gives away an ugly truth. He says the government had no idea what to expect in terms of demand. Exactly! They created a monster by trying to throw everyone – the young, the old, the healthy, the sick – into the same insurance pool and force insurers to take everyone, and to treat everyone the same.
Then they made the problem worse by forcing people who don’t even want insurance to buy it anyway, and by using taxpayer money to subsidize it.
Here’s what happens when you do that: Suddenly the market is flooded with people making demands on the system who were not previously making any demands whatsoever. That overtaxes the system and causes costs to skyrocket. Who will pay for that? The party that has committed to pay the subsidies, which is the federal government, which is to say – the taxpayers. You.
Free health care! Ha! Joke’s on you!
At the same time, providers will be forced out of the system because they can’t make a reasonable return on the services they provide, especially those who take Medicaid patients.
So your insurance will cost more, the quality of your care will be worse and you will have to wait longer to get it because there aren’t as many providers available. Oh, and that’s if you can navigate your way through the “exchanges” and sign up in the first place.
Welcome to ObamaCare. It’s the latest attempt by politicians to banish market realities by legislative fiat. We can already see it is working about as well as every other such attempt by politicians to do this – which is to say, not at all. Because it is impossible. The only thing harder, I reckon, is getting them to stop trying.