Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Obamacare: Paying more, getting less

I'm not sure I would agree with the blogger at Political Math on every issue that comes along, but it's hard to dispute his numbers. It's especially hard for a former lit. major who is not all that great with numbers to do so; but I suspect people who are good at math might not have a problem with Political Math's math, either (though they might, if they are liberal, attack his conclusions).

His latest visual demonstration involves health care. The blogger expresses his frustration in tracking down hard data and real numbers involved in the health care debate--but that's one of the features of the health care debate, not a bug, as far as some are concerned; the more fluid and unreal the numbers are, the easier it is to insist that we're teetering on the brink of an unsolvable crisis and that without Obamacare enacted immediately things will become so incomprehensibly worse that we won't ever be able to fix them.

But Political Math does a simple thing: he looks at an average state without Obamacare-style reforms in place, namely Georgia, and the only state which has tried to implement key provisions also found in Obamacare, which is, not surprisingly, Massachusetts. And the results are pretty compelling to see:

This post at Political Math's blog gives some further details and information; for example, the insurance cost in MA might be greater than $800, not the relatively conservative estimate of $600 Political Math uses in his example.

The implications, though, are clear, and not reassuring: the one state in the country which tried to "solve" their health care problem with Obama-style reforms has seen a dramatic increase in costs and an equally dramatic increase in wait-times to see most physicians (though emergency visits, pregnancy care, and other types of doctor visits were not affected by this increase--but were left out of both examples).

If Massachusetts' example carries over to the nation, Obamacare will mean more expensive insurance (which we will be mandated to purchase) and longer time spent waiting to see a doctor for routine or non-emergency care. We will pay more and get less, in other words--which shouldn't surprise anybody; it's the way things always are when the federal government takes over an industry.

One thing I'd love to hear the Politica Math blogger address is the potential "tipping point" issue: if employers decide not to offer private insurance to employees once a government insurance plan is available to all people, how long would it take, or how many people would it take, for the costs of the government plan to become completely unsustainable?


MacBeth Derham said...

That is so unfair...everyone should have to wait as long as Massachusetts! Everyone needs Obama's plan! Then we will all be equal!

That's how they fix things in MA.

eulogos said...

Red Cardigan....Erin...you write clearly and trenchantly on many subjects. Would you accept a small correction? In the sentence beginning "Pregnancy care..." it should be "were not affected by this increase" not "were not effected." You knew that, right?

Red Cardigan said...

Oh, yes, Susan; thanks! Typing too quickly and didn't proofread the whole thing. :)

Badger said...

It sucks when people that haven't worked in health care pontificate on the matter. Let's start with the natural variance. If you look at the premium data, you'll note that younger people have lower insurance rates. Georgia happens to be a younger state. Another factor is that eligibility for Medicaid is determined by income. A plumber III in Boston makes $52-66K. A plumber III in Atlanta makes between $45K-$58K. What this means is that more of the bottom 30% in Atlanta are eligibile for Medicaid than Boston. As far as average premiums go, you are only included if you are underwritten. In Massachuesetts the requirements have always been higher than Georgia. In other words, you are more likely to receive an offer of insurance in Mass than you are in Georgia.