Shrewdness or luck: Obamacare may result in better market-driven system

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Two items in Sunday’s Sentinel – Jay Seaton’s “Shrewdness or luck:  Obamacare may result in better market-driven system” and Dr. Michael Pramenko’s “Individual mandate is critical for guaranteed health coverage” – require readers’ attention, because they afford invaluable insights into the potential benefits and practical wisdom of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (“Obamacare”).

  The “American system” of private health insurers arose during World War II, as military materiel manufacturers competing for scarce skilled labor began offering health insurance coverage as a benefit to attract workers and executives.  The “market place” responded to that demand, resulting in some 1300 commercial health insurers today.

  However, due to that “policy decision”, many American corporations are now saddled with burgeoning health insurance costs that make their products and services less competitive in world markets – thereby costing jobs.  Obamacare will change that.

  Meanwhile, profit-driven insurers maximized “return” by increasing premiums while minimizing costs—avoiding higher risk applicants, denying benefit payouts, and canceling coverage when actual and/or potential benefit payouts rise.  Consequently, too many policyholders too-often found themselves with no coverage when they needed it.

  To legitimize such decisions, for-profit insurers hired doctors to evaluate claims for the purpose of denying them (based on “pre-existing conditions”, etc.).  The result was some 1300 separate “death panels” whose salaries and bonuses – and those of executives rewarded for maximizing profits – further increased premiums for individual and corporate policy purchasers.  Obamacare “kills” those jobs by making them illegal.

  Unfortunately missing from Obamacare because of Sarah Palin’s “death panel” meme was its biggest potential cost-saving provision – the Republican proposal to pay physicians for providing “end of life counseling” to elderly patients.  Anyone who has observed the process of dying in a hospital versus hospice knows that the latter is both more humane and dignified, and much less wastefully expensive.

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