The Supreme Court of the United States
The U.S. Supreme Court heard the case for and against the Affordable Care Act AKA ObamaCare last week. The Justices will render some sort of verdict, perhaps as early as June. Most bets are that they'll overturn the act and rule that it is unconstitutional. If that happens we can all go back to the insurances and the health care we currently enjoy.
I'm not sure that the ruling--in either direction--will have much of an impact on me. I've been a Blue Cross Blue Shield customer for more than thirty years. As a self-employed person my annual premium costs about $14,000.00 a year. That covers 80% of all the bad stuff than can happen to me and my wife after we run through a $2500.00 (each) deductible and pay a co-pay for each visit to our "provider." This expense won't go away until I'm on Medicare.
I had some fairly routine heart procedures within the last 12 months. The total cost billed to Blue Cross Blue Shield so far has been about $60,000.00. I'm sure glad I have insurance. Otherwise, I might have become part of the growing medical tourism crowd. For example, the same treatment I received here in the U.S. would cost $9,000.00 in Berlin, Germany, and about $5600.00 in Bangkok, Thailand. The clinical outcomes--the success and failure rates--are nearly identical in each country.
While the Supremes were deliberating my wife had an annual physical. Her physician ordered some tests that needed pre-authorization from Blue Cross Blue Shield. Sadly, our BC/BS provider--to whom we have paid premiums for more than 30 years--denied the tests so we'll have to pay for them out of pocket. Our deductible charge, by the way, cannot be applied to these tests because they are not pre-authorized.
The Death Panels that we were told are part of ObamaCare played no part in the denial of the tests ordered by my wife's physician--BC/BS took care of that. And as far as I know, neither of the political parties for and against ObamaCare have wondered why Germans and Thais pay a fraction of what U.S. Citizens pay for the same thing, and the same probable outcome. I wonder about it though, and perhaps you do too.
The main objections to ObamaCare seem to be about what it will cost, and that it will take away our freedoms. Canadians, Finns, and even Frenchmen, among others, seem free despite having state supported health care, but really, who knows if they are free or not? If a thing is not constitutional than no amount of palaver will make it so.
The freedom objection was explained to me last Friday by a friend who said "the federal government is so overrun by liberals, socialists, communists, gays, Mexican illegals and tree-huggers that our only alternative is a well-regulated militia with the unalienable right to bear arms. Mandating health insurance is a step away from mandating gun control. I'm voting Republican to preserve my constitutional right to bear arms."
Ironically, this guy's children's health care was covered by ARKids B until they were out of school and into the labor force. He himself does not carry health insurance, but he had been a physically healthy person and the money he's saved has allowed him to collect an impressive array of pistols and rifles. I certainly hope he'll follow through with his Constitutional impulses and protect us from all those communists out there.
Along the same lines, Arkansas' Congressional delegation has been down in the delta promising the Riceland Corporation and other commodities farmers that they would do everything necessary to assure that subsidized crop insurance would be included in the new Farm Bill. Apparently we can afford to subsidize the health of rice and corn, but not people. Interesting.
What happens if the Supremes overturn the Affordable Care Act? I suppose my friend the Constitutional Scholar will feel safer because communism is defeated once again. Agribusiness will continue to receive subsidies for crop insurance. Clerks at Blue Cross Blue Shield will keep the power to second guess physicians. And we'll all keep on paying 5 to 6 times more for care than Germans and Thais do. And, of course, opponents of ObamaCare will have "won" and delivered on their promise to defeat it.
Whatever the outcome of the Supreme Court's deliberations, or the 2012 federal elections, I'll have health insurance. True, the cost of that insurance went up 19% last year--BC/BS certified me as officially old--but somehow we'll muddle by. Thank goodness I'm over 55 years of age and therefore grandfathered into the current Medicare program--even the one proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan.
I've got mine so I guess I shouldn't worry about you.