Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878

The Affordable Care Act: The Unaffordable Care Act

Over the years, the federal government has created a series of entitlements that, although occasionally successful, have consistently contributed to our ever-increasing debt obligations to be repaid by future generations. This latest incarnation, “Obamacare,” is a disastrous policy and will significantly increase our debt, severely distort health care markets and impose harsh present and future costs on our generation. Its website, which has been plagued by glitches and crashes, reflects the unpreparedness of the administration for the rollout as well as the severe cost overruns—estimated at three times the original cost—for the website’s development, an unfortunate yet typical feature of government projects. Even worse, according to the independent firm Kantar and the research firm Millward Brown, a mere 36,000 people enrolled out of 9.5 million unique visitors to the website in the first week of October, on track to fall far short of the Obama administration’s prediction of 500,000 for the first month.

However, as White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “Health care reform is more than a website;” “Obamacare” will fail because of its nature as a heavy-handed and misguided attempt to reform our health care system. Its intention to limit the growth of premium costs has backfired, at least according to soaring rates nationwide. We’ve even had the unfortunate opportunity to witness this on campus, as our school’s health insurance rates skyrocketed from $780 last year to $1,300 this year, a cost far in excess of “affordable.” And according to “Obamacare”’s website, the cheapest generic health care plan, which only covers 60 percent of health care expenses, still costs $1,200. All the people with pre-existing conditions who could not afford health insurance before are strongly incentivized to sign up, and their high risk—as well as the price—is shared with all the healthier people, creating incentives for young and healthy demographics to not purchase health care. Even the Internal Revenue Service penalty for lack of insurance, which has since been unmasked by the Supreme Court as a tax, will not convince many people to buy health insurance since a paltry $95 fine cannot effectively force a healthy person to spend upward of $1,000 for insurance.

Ultimately, “Obamacare” represents an intrusion by the federal government and the Obama administration into the privacy and rights of Americans. The notion that the federal government can and should force Americans to buy health insurance, even those who are perfectly healthy, bodes ill for our freedoms and the future. The drastic expansion of Medicare, which reimburses doctors and hospitals far below market rates, promises significantly more government spending and debt and threatens to decrease the access of patients to quality doctors. This attempt at reform will be a colossal failure, and it is only a matter of time before it reveals its true colors. But until it has demonstrated its failure to Washington, D.C., and to the American people, we will have to suffer the devastating consequences of “Obamacare. “

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Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878