By Peter Heck
As it's becoming increasingly clear this presidency thing isn't going to work out for him, Barack Obama should feel relieved that he has proven to have the skills necessary to forge a successful follow-up career as a snake oil salesman. His most recent Obamacare press conference demonstrated that when it comes to far-fetched guarantees of miracles at bargain-basement prices, President Obama is in a league of his own.
The editors of National Review magazine pointed out that during the course of this hour-long sales pitch, Obama "said essentially all of the uninsured would be covered, the insured could keep their existing coverage, the quality of care would rise, waste and fraud would be slashed, the deficit would decline, and no one would have to pay a price for all this except a few millionaires." One must wonder if while he spoke, Vice President Biden was out looking for Pete's Dragon to capture and compound into the remedies necessary to make all this come to pass.
But since these snake oil deals never seem to work out very well for the customers, perhaps we citizens should take a careful look at the fine print on Mr. Obama's bill. The current version of Obamacare working its way through the House of Representatives is a 1,018-page monstrosity that no lawmaker has actually read, and that they're assuming no citizen will take the time to read either. Fortunately, you only have to wade through to page 16 to find out things aren't exactly as advertised.
Under the section entitled, "Limitation on New Enrollment," it states in black and white: "Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of Obamacare's enactment.
Plain English: those of you who have private coverage, you can keep it – but you can't change it. And if you decide to leave your current job to start your own business, you won't be able to purchase individual plans from private carriers. Page 16 forbids it.
Those of us who oppose socialism have been warning for some time that when a private company is forced to compete with the government, the private company will never survive. Unlike private companies who need to make profits in order to operate, government does not. Government can charge a ridiculously cheap amount for their insurance option and offset the difference with taxpayer money. Since private companies don't have that ability and must keep their prices elevated to the point where they will make profit, a government option will eventually destroy the entire private market. Why would employers pay more to a private company for coverage when they can take the government option and pay less?
As the nonpartisan Lewin Group study revealed and Investor's Business Daily reported, "120 million or more Americans could lose their group coverage at work and end up in such a program." This gutting of the customer base of private insurance carriers would cause the market to "fizzle out altogether."
So why is that a bad thing? People would be covered, right? Sure, but as the president has often acknowledged, in order to cut costs, the government will have to limit access to certain procedures, surgeries, and treatment (recall that macabre moment when the president told a woman that under his plan her 105-year-old mother would have received pain pills instead of a life-saving pacemaker). The government will determine whether you're young, healthy, and responsible enough to be worth the expense. And if you don't want a government bureaucrat making those determinations for you, can you opt out of the government plan and purchase your own private insurance? Nope. Page 16 forbids it.
Some have suggested that if things got too bad in a government-run healthcare system, private companies would start popping up again and offering an alternative. There's only one problem with that. Page 16 forbids "any new policies [from being] written after the public option becomes law."
When you consider that the Obamacare header over page 16 reads "Protecting the Choice to Keep Current Coverage," you start to get an idea about the amount of deception that is taking place.
The president has admitted to being unsure of the details of the House version of Obamacare, yet has urged members to rush its passage regardless. Why? Because snake oil salesmen are never really concerned with the well-being of their customers. They distort, manipulate, mislead, and make outlandish promises . . . right before they pack up their trailer with your money and head down the road.
Peter Heck (firstname.lastname@example.org) hosts a two-hour, daily call-in radio program on WIOU (1350 AM) in Kokomo, Indiana. "The Peter Heck Show" comments on social and political issues -- and doesn't shy away from recognizing how faith influences politics.