Oba­macare Q&A for dum­mies

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION - Tom Pur­cell is syn­di­cated by Ca­gle Car­toons. Tom Pur­cell Colum­nist

Now that open en­roll­ment is upon us and Oba­macare pre­mi­ums are soar­ing through the roof (again), my email in­box is be­ing flooded with ques­tions from frus­trated Amer­i­cans. I’ll do my best to pro­vide answers that even a dummy could un­der­stand.

Dear Tom: The Af­ford­able Care Act of 2010 was sup­posed to ex­tend health in­sur­ance cov­er­age and reduce costs. Why do my pre­mi­ums keep go­ing up? — Hurt­ing in Hous­ton

Dear Hurt­ing: Oba­macare was sold to the public along emo­tional lines — in­sur­ance for all, in­clud­ing folks with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions. It was sold with the mis­truth that you could ex­pand cov­er­age and costs would go down. Its ar­chi­tects knew all along that you can’t give every­one the good­ies they want with­out caus­ing pre­mi­ums to ex­plode. Oba­macare ar­chi­tect Jonathan Gru­ber ex­plained on sev­eral oc­ca­sions that Oba­macare was de­signed to dupe stupid Amer­i­cans, and dupe it did.

Dear Tom: Be­fore Oba­macare be­come law, Pres­i­dent Obama said that my fam­ily’s pol­icy would drop by $2,500 a year, and he promised we’d get to keep my doc­tor. But our pol­icy in­creased by $5,000 a year, our de­ductibles quadru­pled, and we lost our fa­vorite doc­tors. How could Obama’s prom­ises go so hor­ri­bly wrong? — Mis­led in Mis­sis­sippi

Dear Mis­led: It must have been Bush’s fault.

Dear Tom: How could the gov­ern­ment bureau­crats who mas­ter­minded Oba­macare get their es­ti­mates so ter­ri­bly wrong? In the pri­vate sec­tor, heads would roll. — Peeved in Peo­ria

Dear Peeved: Gov­ern­ment Oba­macare en­rollee es­ti­mates were off by about half. That is, mil­lions of young, healthy peo­ple who were ex­pected to pur­chase health in­sur­ance poli­cies are — shock­ing, I know — spend­ing their money on beer in­stead. Since young, healthy peo­ple don’t need as much care, their pre­mi­ums cover the costs of peo­ple who do need care. With­out them, Oba­macare is im­plod­ing. Pri­vate-sec­tor em­ploy­ees would be fired for get­ting their es­ti­mates so wrong. Gov­ern­ment bureau­crats get bonuses.

Dear Tom: I don’t have a ques­tion. I just want to share my frus­tra­tion. I’m shop­ping around for an in­di­vid­ual pol­icy, but Oba­macare is mak­ing me buy cov­er­age for things I don’t need. — Agi­tated in Ari­zona

Dear Agi­tated: So true. Oba­macare re­quires your new pol­icy to meet 10 new min­i­mum stan­dards that in­clude cov­er­age for such things as men­tal health, drug abuse and ma­ter­nity. Even if you are a 51-year-old man who will never bear chil­dren, you must pay for ma­ter­nity care.

Dear Tom: I don’t think Oba­macare is fail­ing. I think its plan­ners de­signed it to pave the way for the sin­gle-payer gov­ern­ment health care that pol­icy pro­gres­sives have wanted to im­pose on the coun­try for years. — Sus­pi­cious in Syra­cuse

Dear Sus­pi­cious: I’m not sure Oba­macare’s ar­chi­tects were clever enough to pull off such a strat­egy. That said, Oba­macare is dish­ing out so much pain to so many mid­dle-class peo­ple, it does open up an op­por­tu­nity for an­other sil­ver-tongued politi­cian to prom­ise that higher taxes on the rich will fund “Medi­care for all!” We are at a fork in the road: Ei­ther we ap­ply sen­si­ble mar­ket re­forms to cor­rect the root cause of our health­care woes — costs are out of con­trol — or we give up as a peo­ple and let the gov­ern­ment com­plete its de­sired health­care takeover. We bet­ter hope and pray for sen­si­ble re­form.

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