Commentary

ObamaCare for Dummies


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Is there any place you can go to find an objective, understandable explanation of how ObamaCare works?

That’s not easy. Mostly what you find is completely one-sided. Either there will be an exposition about all the benefits. Or there will be a litany of problems and harms. Is there any such thing as an objective look at health reform?

Yes. It’s my new book, Living with ObamaCare: A Consumer’s Guide. It’s based on the book Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis (Independent Institute), but it’s much shorter and easier to read. The book was produced by the National Center for Policy Analysis, but you won’t find it at their web site. Where you can find it is at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and atHudson Booksellers in airports around the country.

The most refreshing thing about the book is that it really does try to be unbiased. Where else are you going to find an objective assessment of ObamaCare? Certainly not in Washington, which is more polarized than at any time in recent memory. Certainly not on the TV talk shows, which are also increasingly polarized. Certainly not in the public policy community which is dominated by either ideology or special interest pleading. As I write in the Introduction:

All we hear from the White House and congressional Democrats are the benefits of change. When they appear on TV shows, armed with talking points – they promptly list every good thing about the reform they can think of. For the past three years, they have sold Obamacare the way Madison Avenue sells soap.

But Republicans are just as bad in the opposite way. Watch an interview on TV and you will hear everything bad about the reform they can think of. Conservatives are trying to convince you that Obamacare is a disaster in the same way Madison Avenue tries to get you to quit smoking or lose weight.

What you get in Living with Obamacare is the good, the bad and the ugly. And it begins with the good.

ObamaCare is a god send for uninsured people with pre-existing conditions and high expected heath care costs. Now, they can buy health insurance for the same premium everyone else is paying. In the three years leading up to 2014 only 107,000 people took up that offer. But those 107,000 people are all better off.

The new law is also a boon for below-average income families who previously could not afford health insurance. Now they can get highly subsidized insurance. It appears that only about 5 million people are newly insured and that seems small, considering that there were close to 50 million uninsured when we entered this year. Still, those are 5 million who gained.

Every benefit comes with a cost, however. In order for the relatively sick to pay lower premiums the relatively healthy must pay more. In order for some people to get a subsidy, other people must pay higher taxes. ObamaCare taxes everything from wheelchairs and crutches to pacemakers and artificial hips and knees. The families of employees of small businesses will pay $500 more every year because of health reform.

And here is something unique. This book is about the only place where you will find an objective discussion of how ObamaCare affects the elderly. It lists all the major benefits for seniors, including a free annual “wellness visit.” But notes that for every $1 of new benefits there are $10 of new costs. Included in the costs are these scary revelations from the Medicare actuaries:

  • Medicare fees paid to doctors will fall below Medicaid levels by 2019.
  • By 2050, Medicare fees will be only one-half of what the private sector pays.
  • By 2080, they will be only one third.

Try it. You’ll like it. And even if you don’t find the message comforting, you’ll be better informed.


John C. Goodman is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, President of the Goodman Institute for Public Policy Research, and author of the widely acclaimed Independent books, A Better Choice: Healthcare Solutions for America, and the award-winning, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and the National Journal, among other media, have called him the “Father of Health Savings Accounts.”


  New from John C. Goodman!
A BETTER CHOICE: Healthcare Solutions for America
Obamacare remains highly controversial and faces ongoing legal and political challenges. Polls show that by a large margin Americans remain opposed to the healthcare law and seek to “repeal and replace” it. However, the question is: Replace it with what?