As all of you may know, the so-called Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare.” But the law was not upheld on the constitutional premise that most proponents believed it to be:under the Commerce Clause. Obviously, that did not appear to be the case considering that the Commerce Clause under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution does not codify regulation of commerce between private individuals and businesses. Instead, the Supreme Court upheld it as a tax.

As you all may know, President Obama touted during the Healthcare Reform debate that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would not be at all a “tax.” The President was totally wrong, but he played “fast-and-easy politics on this: the law originated in the Senate, and if bills concerning taxation do not originate in the House as it is constitutionally-mandated to do so, then the law is essentially null and void. But President Obama just made an honest mistake I’m sure. Yeah, that’s it…

I’ll spare you all the Constitutional ramifications of it all. It is pretty clear that the Supreme Court isn’t the Protector of the Constitution that it was originally intended to be. But I want to focus on some issues concerning the new Healthcare Law.

First off, Obamacare really is the government takeover of healthcare that opponents have warned about. I had been reading the Obamacare law on and off, but its so long that I gave up and just tried doing additional research on the law to make some short-cuts. Thankfully, this article gives a breakdown of what components of the Law detail in each section. Keep in mind that these provisions are very real. I even looked each section up for myself. Some of the most concerning provisions design a bureaucratic entity similar to the National Institute for health Clinical Excellence in the United Kingdom. The Obamacare law does this by empowering the Obama Administration’s Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. Currently, the CCER lacks the authority of NICE, but that will change by 2014.

For those of you curious, NICE is a board that decides what treatments that individuals may receive for their ailments and conditions based on cot efficiency. The Wall Street Journal puts into a nutshell perspective of NICE’s history on some of its practices:

In March, NICE ruled against the use of two drugs, Lapatinib and Sutent, that prolong the life of those with certain forms of breast and stomach cancer. This followed on a 2008 ruling against drugs — including Sutent, which costs about $50,000 — that would help terminally ill kidney-cancer patients. After last year’s ruling, Peter Littlejohns, NICE’s clinical and public health director, noted that “there is a limited pot of money,” that the drugs were of “marginal benefit at quite often an extreme cost,” and the money might be better spent elsewhere.

In 2007, the board restricted access to two drugs for macular degeneration, a cause of blindness. The drug Macugen was blocked outright. The other, Lucentis, was limited to a particular category of individuals with the disease, restricting it to about one in five sufferers. Even then, the drug was only approved for use in one eye, meaning those lucky enough to get it would still go blind in the other. As Andrew Dillon, the chief executive of NICE, explained at the time: “When treatments are very expensive, we have to use them where they give the most benefit to patients.”

The practices are only the beginning. Another controversial practice of NICE in the U.K. is the limitation of healthcare funding for individuals in the last 6 months of their lives. With only $22,000 granted to the individuals to fund their care. That is totally outrageous considering the fact that the last years of an individual’s life is when they need healthcare money the most. And this is only the beginning of the horrors of universal healthcare.

Another point that is often ignored is the survival rates of cancer. If you look at cancer survival rates for the United States vs Britain, survival rates for breast cancer rates show favorable for the US 84% to 73%, and for prostate cancer 92% to 57%. This is no accident. One thing I tend to notice is that survival rates in general rank better in the US than in most other countries with universal healthcare. Even while our system is eroding due to government intervention, we have succeeded due to economic freedom in healthcare and innovation made possible by competition. But this does not stop universal care proponents from attacking medical freedom and the doctor-patient relationship. They confuse the failure of government intervention and subsidizing with the market.

The next thing to consider is the costs that will be brought about. Not only the initial, but long term costs as well. Mandi Woodruff of the Business Insider highlights some of the major costs that will be imposed on tax payers to pay for Obamacare:

  1. The Tan Tax: This is bad news for routine tanners and has been since July 2010. While it does not apply to phototherapy, it penalizes the action of the individual by imposing a 10% tax hike on typical tanning services.
  2. Consumer penalties: These penalties will be divided into tiers that will significantly rise over a 3-year period starting in 2014. In addition to these penalties, individuals will be forced to purchase government-mandated plans, which will be referred to as “exchanges” (for legislative terminology purposes). Though there are exceptions, they come in extremely rare cases and give no opt-outs for other individuals.

The list goes on and there is plenty of costs to go around for everyone. This makes no economic since and will only create more economic uncertainty for individuals and businesses since they will have less money to spend, save, and invest. My home state of Georgia is already flooded with costs from Medicaid, and it has been projected by the State Legislature that the costs would skyrocket and create untold deficits for the State budget if Obamacare sees fruition by 2014. It goes back to basic economics: if you tax something, then you will surely get less of it in the long run. Businesses will lose money and the starving economy will only be further drained.

Lastly, I would like to consider the moral issue of it. I will make this very brief with a couple of questions that I encourage you, the reader, to answer for yourself. What authority should a centralized governing entity have over an individual’s private decisions for their OWN healthcare, do they not know what’s best for themselves? Why should the individual be penalized through unfair tax treatment for pursuing insurance plans outside of business or the government? Proponents of universal healthcare argue that the insurance companies and businesses “exploit” the individual and hold them hostage on their health plans. Yet, government empowers those groups with tax breaks that are not extended to individual plans. This is essentially a safety net for businesses and insurance companies to “exploit others,” which is often hyperbole of those UH proponents. Lastly, is healthcare at the expense of others truly a “right” even if it exploits the property of others?

What is often believed of the universal healthcare system is that you will have more choices when the government intervenes (even more than before) into the healthcare market. But what is not considered is the costs, monetary and personal freedom, that go into such a system. Suddenly your life has a price tag on it, but not at your own discretion. You no longer have a say-so in the matter of choosing treatment options because they are “too costly.” In the end, we will lose our personal freedom to make our own decisions in this regard.

I only wish this was false. But the law is written, and the systems show. When you look beyond the surface of the “good” of the system, you will find some pretty bad stuff. It is no wonder why people left other countries like Canada to come to the US anyway. The costs will also come with another expense: human life. As Political Economist Robert Reich puts it with the Universal Healthcare system, in the most chilling words possible, in order to maintain cost-stability in the system, we need to “let old people die.” He was applauded for saying that in this video: 

The free market system is not perfect in any means: there will always be booms and busts in which markets must correct itself to get back on track. But I’d rather be free to make my own decisions with my doctors about my health coverage that could save me some money in the long run then have a system where I’m “guaranteed” healthcare at the expense of higher costs and not having a choice in my treatment options. I’ll take the decentralized approach any day. For my health’s sake. The gap between the myth and reality of universal healthcare is, unfortunately, large. But the tide is turning and its not too late to stop. If we use economic logic and some common sense. What a concept.

-Nathan

 

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