Opinion: Health care costs are rising no matter who is in the White House


The Republican tax-reform bill repeals Obamacare’s individual insurance mandate. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that repealing the mandate will cause 4 million more people by 2019 and 13 million more people by 2027 to be uninsured. Those who buy individual health insurance in the market will bear the brunt of the impact of premium hike which is estimated to be 10 percent.

The Democrats are trying to tell us that the attempts by the Trump administration to repeal Obamacare are sinister moves. Not only will more people become uninsured, there is also less incentive for young and healthy people to enroll and balance out the costs of the sick. That is expected to lead to premium increases.

What the Democrats neglect to mention is: during the past several years with the Obamacare’s individual insurance mandate in full swing, not only the Obamacare’s premiums kept rising but other health insurance plans did the same. Didn’t they say that individual insurance mandate would hold down the premiums?

Take Covered California as an example. Its premium increases include 4.2 percent in 2015, 4 percent in 2016, 13.2 percent in 2017, 12.5 percent in 2018. A total of 33.9 percent in four years. And then? Do you see any improvement in health care quality?

That’s to say, no matter which party occupies the White House, the health insurance premiums will continue to rise. The rates of the increase have far exceeded inflation, price index and stock index. Obamacare looks to be leading the way.

Suppose the Democrats prevailed and sent Hillary Clinton or the progressive Bernie Sanders into the White House, would they promise that health insurance premium will not go up or at least only modestly? Only fools would be taken in.

All right, even if the premium increases are the price to pay for implementing “universal care”. Can any politician kindly tell us, how much do we have to pay in order to achieve this lofty goal? Please end our misery. Don’t let us worry about how can we afford the premium increases every year. Don’t let us get slaughtered by health insurance every year.

As every worker who gets a W-2 will know, your paycheck stub shows two kinds of withholding. Under federal withholding, there is Medicare tax to pay into the Medicare fund. Under federal and state income tax withholding, a big part of it is for health care expenditure.

In other words, the taxes we pay are not sufficient to pay for the public health care
expenses. The premiums increases need to continue under the Obamacare system to keep it running, and yet many people are still uninsured. That means if the Democrats are in charge right now, the health insurance premiums will need to go up in the future in order to have universal care.

Although there is no universal care in America right now, among the more than 39 millions of Californias, nearly one in three have Medi-Cal. Doctor visits and medicine are essentially
free. Among Covered California enrollees, nearly 80 percent receive some kind of subsidy.
Where does the money for the free Medi-Cal and the Covered California subsidies come from? The answer is government tax revenues plus those who paid full premiums.

The bottom line for universal care is securing a stable, sensible and fair funding source to keep the health care system operating and provide good health care service. Actually there is no “free” health care. Maybe it’s free for you but there got to be someone else paid more.

As to what is a stable, sensible and fair funding source? None other than tax revenues and insurance premiums. High income people and those who use the insurance more should pay more. It makes absolutely no sense to ask the middle class to bear the most burden.


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