Obamacare Is No Free Lunch

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“There are good things in the health care reform,” writes the Bismarck Tribune’s editorial board in a column that, while praising some aspects of Obamacare, also praises state leaders for refusing to implement the law’s insurance exchanges.

What are these good things? According to the Tribune they are “no pre-existing conditions, young people being able to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, improved access, minimum requirements.” They continue by saying the law will, “bring improvements in providing prescription drugs and, rightfully, encourage preventive medicine. It makes quality health care a right for all citizens.”

The folks at the Tribune could use a civics less as to what the meaning of “rights” are under the Constitution, but setting that aside, what’s interesting is that after extolling these virtues of Obamacare the Tribune goes on to note that all these new and wondrous things now mandated by federal law also come with a cost.

“Health care reform, when it was first taken up, was aimed at controlling rising health care costs,” writes the Tribune. “The overall affect of Obamacare, we believe, will do the opposite, and without the cash on hand to pay for it.”

There’s the rub. Whether or not these new mandates for health insurance included in the Obamacare law are a positive development is entirely subjective. And while we can point to opinion polls showing most Americans seem to like them, we cannot talk about them without also talking into account what they will cost. That the Tribune would praise these mandates in the law while also decrying the cost of insurance under the law speaks to the often schizophrenic manner in which we debate these issue.

We’d all like to live in mansions, but how many of us can afford to live in mansions?

The overriding complaint about health insurance and health care, the driving impetus behind the endless policy debates over reform, is cost. Health care is unaffordable which, in turn, has made health insurance unaffordable. What Americans expected from Obamacare was less cost for health care out of their pockets. That’s why the law’s official name is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

But Obamacare doesn’t make insurance more affordable. Through mandates and layer after layer of new regulation and red tape, the cost of health insurance is about to skyrocket, accomplishing the exact opposite of what most Americans wanted to see out of this sort of reform.

Politicians supporting the law like to dangle these mandates in the law which are, admittedly, popular, but that’s only as a distraction from what the law is going to cost us.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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