An update from Joan Carrico, the cancer patient we heard from in November:
I thought I was prepared for any outcome, but I wasn’t. I can’t begin to describe how devastated I am. Many people like me, who are in a difficult health crisis and fighting to regain good health, are finding it very difficult — if not impossible — to make sure that we can keep our doctors and receive the chemotherapy and other treatments and medicines that are keeping us alive. I feel stupid for not being better prepared. I’m scared and wondering what surprises are around the corner.
Here are a few more things I’ve learned: The policy I’m considering has approximately 10 percent state and federal taxes added to the premium. My out-of-pocket maximum will increase to $6,350 from $1,500. But, my monthly premium cost will decrease, which will offset some of that difference. I can say my total annual costs are increasing significantly — by about $3,000. Another change is many American taxpayers have historically taken an income-tax deduction for their medical expenses. In the past, this deduction has been limited to the amount of medical expenses in excess of 7.5 percent of a person’s adjusted gross income. Beginning with the year 2013, that threshold will jump to 10 percent. This change will increase my income-tax liability.
I’m coming to the conclusion that the government wants to treat all Americans as the same — rich, poor, old, young, black, white, sickly, healthy — one policy fits all. May sound OK, but is it? How inefficient is that? I personally feel that we are going backwards. Admittedly, our health-care system did need some adjustments to deal with issues like pre-existing conditions. But to re-invent it? I personally don’t think so. What else does the government do efficiently? Wait, I’m still thinking …
The necessary “adjustments” — in my view — consisted of removing government’s thumb from the scale and letting the market work. In my view, a fix would have included such concepts as abolishing favorable tax treatment for employer plans (making the individual market functional again); removing restrictions on buying policies across state lines; and generally wiping away similar government restrictions and policies that impede competition and distort the natural workings of the marketplace. But, in order to fix a problem with the “free market” — a problem that I believe was actually caused by government — we have chosen to impose more governmental restrictions.
Just because the market (especially when hampered by regulation) is not perfect, that does not mean that government can handle it better.
People like Joan Carrico are starting to see that now. As millions lose their previous coverage over the next year or so, others will start to see it too.
UPDATE: But hey, things are looking up for government:
Oregon, once touted as a model for President Obama’s health care law, signed up just 44 people for insurance through November, despite spending more than $300 million on its state-based exchange.
That’s about $7 million per person. How can private industry compete with results like that?