A new study has concluded that the cost to health insurers per claim could rise 32% as they are forced to cover preexisting conditions, and other newly mandated coverage. This means that in the majority of states in the U.S. premiums will rise, because the cost of healthcare will be spread more evenly between sick and healthy people. The rise in premiums will be most obvious to the currently uninsured, and to people who purchase their own insurance, but in the long term companies who offer insurance could drop it or share more of the cost with employees, as costs rapidly rise. Most states like California and Ohio will see a 62% and 80% rise per claim by 2017, while other states like Massachusetts, where purchasing health insurance was already a requirement, will see a double digit drop in the cost per insurance claim, according to the study.
The Obama administration claims the study failed to take into account subsidies, which was acknowledged by the actuaries who carried out the study. Subsidies however, are just taxpayer money that has already been collected, so all this really means is more costs will be hidden. The overall cost per person is expected to rise, especially when subsidies are taken into account. And what is worse, is that when people are no longer responsible for their own healthcare, they will use more of it, and do less on their own to improve their health. Essentially the cost of care will be spread out so that healthy people and sick people will pay the same amount. Maybe this would be a bit more justified if everyone with bad health was a random victim, but many of these increased health costs are brought on by the individual.
Smoking and obesity are some of the biggest causes of health problems and death in the U.S. and both are preventable. But if you are on the hook for your own medical expenses, people may stop smoking decades earlier, or make the effort to get in shape. Behavior will not stay the same when incentives are changed. If the cost of insurance to a smoker is the same as to a runner, fewer people will bother quitting or taking up running. If the cost of insurance to a smoker is double to that of a runner, more people will quit smoking and take up running. Yes, I know that many people run to feel good, and many people quit smoking to feel better, but incentives do not always play out consciously in people’s heads. More likely a smoker would have the attitude, well I’ll quit next week, or just one more pack. But if they were faced with mounting medical bills or insurance costs that would be cut in half within six months of quitting smoking, that obviously encourages them to quit.
Likewise if an overweight person begins to see a surge in healthcare costs or the initial premium for coverage is monumental, and they are responsible for the costs, they are much more likely to alter their behavior: eating less and exercising more. If the cost is the same to an obese person with many medical needs, and a young healthy person with no medical needs, why bother getting into shape? This also sends the message to younger people that taking care of your health is not something that will effect your wallet. Unfortunately, people have a sense that they are invincible, but everyone knows their wallet has a bottom. Fewer people will curtail unhealthy choices when their wallet will not be affected no matter how much they drink, smoke, or eat.
Then there is the matter of making economical choices with the type of care you would like to receive. With the same cost no matter what care you get, of course you will say, do every test in the book. But when each test costs you more money, people may rule out the 3 tests that check for a rare disease found in 1 in a million people. Then, there would always be the option of going back and taking those tests later if everything else comes back negative, but the vast majority of people will find out what is wrong with them without ever having to take those extra 3 tests. To an individual in charge of their health and wallet, this makes sense to forgo the extra tests. When healthcare is “free” or the same cost no matter how much care you get, why not get the extra tests? And this is why patients must be pay at least part of the costs of health care.
And finally when the government is in charge of our health payouts, that will be the excuse to regulate every aspect of life, because it all has to do with health. Remember 1984 when every morning the proles would get up and do some calisthenics in front of the video screens? And not to be cliche, but Hitler planned to institute a national menu as soon as the war was over. And all these negatives do not even take into account the decline of care when there are not enough doctors, and more patients. It is very scary moving forward toward government controlled healthcare, because when has government really gotten a program right? The costs are always way higher than expected, and the quality is usually lower than desirable. With welfare it hurts our wallets and creates a permanent underclass. With healthcare it will literally kill us.