Mr. Dalman, I was disappointed to see you jump on the bandwagon to categorically blame the Republicans for the government shutdown caused by the budget impasse over the Affordable Care Act. I am no more in favor of a government shutdown, or the impending lock-up on the horizon over the debt ceiling, but I can see the point of view where the endless tax-and-spend mentality has to change, and has to be challenged to change.
Let’s talk about the Affordable Care Act for a moment. If we all understand the intent correctly, it is to provide affordable medical coverage to all Americans. That’s great, because we all know about the rapidly rising costs in medicine and the equally rapidly rising costs of insurance, pricing many low- and fixed-income Americans out of coverage, or making it very difficult at least. But, and I say but, what about American families that will receive no benefit? My family is one of these. Combined, my wife and I make too much money to qualify for any help or subsidy in the plan. We have little choice but to purchase what our employers offer for coverage. In spite of taking advantage of flexible spending accounts, HSAs, and the best features in the plans, during the past few years we have not only seen our premiums increase 30 percent, but our deductibles have risen a like amount. Because of medical conditions, we have reached our deductibles, but even after that, the outlay has been thousands of dollars in miscellaneous not-covered expenses. The Affordable Care Act will not do anything to alleviate this for us.
We haven’t yet experienced the total cost to administrate the Affordable Care Act, but know this: Stearns County alone added 10 full-time positions to help administrate the program, with plans to add seven more. Multiply that by 87 Minnesota counties and that is an enormous personnel cost borne by the taxpayers of Minnesota, and that does not even take into account the expense to set up MnSure and administrate that. On top of the previously mentioned out-of-pocket costs above, I and all other Minnesotans are paying for the cost to administrate this. I just don’t feel this level of expenditure is sustainable at the government level, and this becomes even more apparent in the next five-10 years as the baby boomers move into retirement and tax revenues decrease as they will.
Take a step back, Mr. Dalman, and look at the bigger picture. I and my family cannot afford the Affordable Care Act. You probably can’t either. It also has no competition. They can set prices as they wish knowing we, through our various insurances, will pay the cost. As much as I detest government involvement in private business, something has to be done.
Clearly I don’t have all the answers. I do know this, however. If we keep allowing the medical industry to increase its costs by subsidizing those increases through insurance, they will have no incentive to lower them. That alone will doom Obamacare.
We need a better answer.