De­mol­ish­ing the pri­vate health care in­dus­try

Oba­macare has planted the seeds for so­cial­ized medicine

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion - By Lawrence A. Hunter

Oba­macare has blown up on the launch pad. Peo­ple are hav­ing their health plans can­celed, and they are now stranded, un­able to re­place their old insurance poli­cies with new plans pur­chased through the insurance ex­changes be­cause the Oba­macare web­site is dys­func­tional. Pres­i­dent Obama is try­ing to pre­vent a chain re­ac­tion from get­ting out of con­trol by propos­ing a sys­tem restart, re­quir­ing insurance com­pa­nies to re­in­state can­celed plans for a year to give the ad­min­is­tra­tion time to “fix” the web­site and get the ex­changes op­er­a­tional.

The tur­moil with Oba­macare is best un­der­stood not as an un­ex­pected ex­plo­sion, but rather as a case of con­trolled de­mo­li­tion gone hay­wire, in which the con­trol mech­a­nisms were short-cir­cuited and the tim­ing of the charges were out of sync. Rather than blow­ing up, the web­site and insurance ex­changes were meant to man­age and con­trol the de­mo­li­tion of the rest of the pri­vate health insurance mar­ket. The pres­i­dent’s lat­est ma­neu­ver is a dam­age-con­trol ef­fort to fix the web­site’s wiring, de­lay and re-sync the de­mo­li­tion charges, in ef­fect restart­ing the con­trolled de­mo­li­tion of pri­vate health insurance.

Oba­macare is doomed to fail even­tu­ally, not be­cause of a web­site fail­ure, but rather be­cause the law it­self is in­ter­nally con­tra­dic­tory and in vi­o­la­tion of the fun­da­men­tal laws of eco­nom­ics, the hall­mark of all grandiose schemes of cen­tral plan­ning and gov­ern­ment con­trol. In the process of fail­ing, Oba­macare will de­stroy not only the in­di­vid­ual health insurance mar­ket (which there is now lit­tle doubt was an in­te­gral and in­ten­tional de­sign ob­jec­tive of the mea­sure), but also even­tu­ally elim­i­nate the em­ployer group health insurance mar­ket as well, which will doom Oba­macare as we know it.

Fas­ci­nat­ing isn’t it? By sign­ing onto Oba­macare, the health insurance in­dus­try signed its own death war­rant, and just as Lenin pre­dicted, the in­dus­try also pro­vided the rope with which to hang it­self. When Oba­macare goes, so goes the pri­vate health insurance in­dus­try. That’s what hap­pens when the busi­ness com­mu­nity al­lows its own greed to lure it into a Faus­tian bar­gain.

Whether or not de­struc­tion of the pri­vate insurance mar­ket was an in­ten­tional booby trap planted by Oba­macare’s ar­chi­tects, there is no doubt that for­ward-look­ing ac­tivists and politi­cians on the left are now glee­fully an­tic­i­pat­ing the de­struc­tion of pri­vate health insurance in the hopes of us­ing the Oba­macare im­plo­sion as the cat­a­lyst for re­plac­ing it with the pres­i­dent’s and their own true ob­jec­tive: a cen­tral­ized, sin­gle-payer sys­tem — real so­cial­ized medicine. The trick for them is to con­trol the de­mo­li­tion process.

For op­po­nents of Oba­macare, the fact that the law will fail is of lit­tle con­so­la­tion be­cause the man­ner in which it fails and the con­fig­u­ra­tion of po­lit­i­cal power that ex­ists when it oc­curs will de­ter­mine whether some­thing bet­ter or worse arises from its ru­ins.

What­ever the orig­i­nal in­ten­tion of Oba­macare’s con­gres­sional ar­chi­tects, the in­ten­tion of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is now to pre­side over a con­trolled de­mo­li­tion of the pri­vate health insurance sys­tem while it hides be­hind a disin­gen­u­ous, faux ef­fort to “save” it through the insurance-ex­change mon­stros­ity, which it knows can­not pos­si­bly work even with the best pos­si­ble web­site. Vot­ers should not be as gullible as the health insurance in­dus­try con­tin­ues to be about the law. Mr. Obama’s ef­forts to “fix” Oba­macare are not about sav­ing the pri­vate insurance in­dus­try. At the end of the day, the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts are all about dam­age con­trol as the in­dus­try dis­in­te­grates so Oba­macare can be re­placed by real so­cial­ized medicine.

The de­struc­tion of the in­di­vid­ual health insurance mar­ket al­ready is well un­der­way with mil­lions of pol­icy cancellations and rate hikes be­gin­ning to plow it un­der. Cor­ro­sion of the em­ployer-pro­vided, group health insurance mar­ket also has be­gun, as smaller em­ploy­ers re­jig­ger their work­force to keep the num­ber of full-time em­ploy­ees be­low the magic num­ber of 50, which trig­gers the em­ployer man­date in 2015. Even large firms that will not be able to avoid the em­ployer man­date are re­fus­ing to hire full-time em­ploy­ees, pre­fer­ring in­stead to fill the ranks with as many part-timers as pos­si­ble, who are not cov­ered un­der Oba­macare’s em­ployer man­date.

Un­less the Amer­i­can peo­ple rise up in op­po­si­tion to Oba­macare soon, it will be too late to defuse the booby trap. The en­tire pri­vate health insurance in­dus­try will be ef­fec­tively de­mol­ished within five years if the de­mo­li­tion is al­lowed to con­tinue un­abated. The 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion will be the last exit be­fore the abyss. With­out push­back, odds are on the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s be­ing able to man­age the fail­ure suc­cess­fully be­tween now and 2016. Mr. Obama is a mas­ter at out­last­ing the out­rage, and in do­ing so pre­vent­ing voter out­rage from boil­ing over and bring­ing about a po­lit­i­cal re­align­ment in Wash­ing­ton over Oba­macare’s fail­ure. If the pres­i­dent suc­cess­fully re­gains con­trol of the de­mo­li­tion process, there will be no stop­ping the trans­for­ma­tion of Oba­macare into real sin­gle-payer, so­cial­ized medicine.

The bad news is mil­lions of Amer­i­cans will be harmed as Oba­macare col­lapses. The good news is, with the 2014 midterm elec­tions pro­vid­ing a skir­mish ground and the main pres­i­den­tial bat­tle still three years off, the con­tin­u­ing daily horror sto­ries sur­round­ing Oba­macare will pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity, if han­dled prop­erly, to per­suade the pub­lic that the law can­not be fixed, that a so­cial­ized, sin­gle­payer sys­tem will be worse, and that a po­lit­i­cal re­align­ment in Wash­ing­ton is nec­es­sary to pre­vent the Oba­macare dis­as­ter from be­com­ing a so­cial­ized-medicine catas­tro­phe. un­less you count Maine’s then-Sen. Olympia J. Snowe’s cru­cial vote in 2009 to get the bill out of the Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee.

The gov­ern­ment shut­down is al­ready for­got­ten, but not Sen. Ted Cruz’s re­mark­able speech draw­ing a bright line in the sand. That 21-hour tour de force was about much more than the im­me­di­ate, doomed vote to de­fund Oba­macare. It was about ed­u­cat­ing the Amer­i­can peo­ple for the long haul and draw­ing distinctions be­tween the two par­ties.

The pun­dits who say you should never try such a bold tac­tic un­less you are al­ready as­sured of vic­tory should ac­quaint them­selves with the Bat­tle of Tren­ton.

We live in a na­tion that still de­pends too much on a “main­stream” me­dia com­posed of lib­eral scribes and rad­i­cal left­ists who never re­cov­ered from the brain­wash­ing they got at Har­vard Yard. It has gone be­yond mere bias to a shock­ingly ob­vi­ous daily as­sault on tra­di­tional Amer­i­can val­ues and free-mar­ket prin­ci­ples. When a mule this stub­born is block­ing the road, you need a Cruz mis­sile.

Do not try to fix what is en­tirely a Demo­crat-hatched abom­i­na­tion for which the Amer­i­can peo­ple will soon ex­press their grat­i­tude. De­lay­ing or eas­ing the pain lets the perps off the hook. The only thing that makes sense right now is another vote to de­fund the en­tire mon­stros­ity.

Sec­ond, dust off those good ideas for free-mar­ket health care re­form that were ig­nored or tram­pled by the me­dia in their sin­gle-minded pur­suit to jam Oba­macare down Amer­ica’s throat. Do­ing noth­ing is not an op­tion af­ter Oba­macare col­lapses. There is real pain and suf­fer­ing out there among peo­ple who lack insurance, which is why Oba­macare be­came at­trac­tive to so many.

Dr. Ben S. Car­son has made an elo­quent case in his col­umn in The Wash­ing­ton Times for the power of health sav­ings ac­counts and other ways to re­move the mid­dle­man be­tween doc­tors and pa­tients. Other GOP ideas in­clude flat and uni­ver­sal tax cred­its for cov­er­age, tort re­form, sales of insurance across state lines and re­form of Med­i­caid, giv­ing states more flex­i­bil­ity to en­sure cov­er­age of the poor.

Ac­cess can be im­proved with­out wreck­ing the sys­tem we al­ready have.

Here’s some free cam­paign ad­vice for Democrats, which is much sim­pler: “Obama who?”

Mer­rill Matthews is a res­i­dent scholar with the Dal­las-based In­sti­tute for Pol­icy In­no­va­tion.

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