In my previous post, I explained what the Affordable Care Act is and what it does. I like most of what it does, with three exceptions:
1. The electronic health records requirement scares me. I think this is a bad idea. Health records, like financial records, should not be placed online. There is no way to protect them adequately from hackers or accidental disclosure. This is a huge privacy issue and it should be stricken from the Act. Making it a requirement with no opt-out provision is the most irresponsible act I can recall the government committing in my lifetime.
2. The Act doesn't take effect quickly enough. Most of the important provisions do not go into effect until 2014 and some take until 2020 or beyond to start. All of the provisions should be immediate for two reasons: (1) People need help now and (2) People will not understand what the law does until it actually starts doing it.
3. The Act doesn't go far enough. Nice try, but this is a Band-Aid on a problem that requires major surgery. Our healthcare system is a disaster. It is not a world class healthcare system and compares poorly to every other advanced nation's system. The World Health Organization ranked the U.S. 37th in the world for healthcare, despite the fact that we spend the most per capita by a large margin.We need to start from scratch, not amend the existing system. Some support the Public Option, which would create a government-run health insurance agency to compete with existing private health insurance companies. It's called a Public Option because it gives the public the choice of either a government insurer or private insurer. I don't like this idea because it doesn't go to the root of the problem - insurance companies. The reason healthcare costs are so high, and the reason so many people fail to receive proper care, is because insurance companies act as middlemen, pocketing the lion's share of the money and making decisions about your health that you and your doctor should rightfully be making.
We need to take insurance companies completely out of the picture. To do this, we need to change our current healthcare system to a Single Payer system. Medicare is an example of a Single Payer system. Instead of paying a large premium to an insurance company, you pay a small premium to a government agency pool (like Medicare). (It's a smaller payment because the administrative costs run about 3% versus 70%.) The bills go to the agency, which pays them less your deductible and co-payment (20% under Medicare). This eliminates waste and makes medical services affordable for all. If you're under 65, you probably don't understand Medicare (which is not the same as Medicaid, a program for low income people). But ask your grandparents or other seniors what they think of Medicare and if they are willing to give it up. There's a reason why they don't want to give it up -- it works!
So, if I had my way, we'd amend The Social Security Act Amendments of 1965, which created Medicare, by removing two words: "over 65". No need for a 906-page Affordable Care Act. Just delete those two words from existing law and establish "Medicare For All". It's that simple. Yes, it will cost money, but it will also save trillions of dollars in the long term. If we can afford to spend billions of dollars to kill strangers in Iraq and Afghanistan, how about spending the money to save American lives right here?