Andy Driscoll: ObamaCare Has History on Its Side

Employer-provided healthcare, in its true light, should long ago have been seen for what it was: a stopgap measure to ensure wartime factory workers coverage to prevent war-profiteering by corporations whose largesse derived directly from government contracts to produce tanks, jeeps, armaments, etc., produced mostly by Rosie the Riveter...women employed to replace the men sent to the battlefields and war ships.

Insurance companies had a premium holiday because they could profit handsomely from certain percentages of those defense contracts to provide the coverages required by them.

After the war, instead of finding a way to maintain those coverages on such a massive, government-funded scale, employer-provided healthcare moved into a permanent group policy culture that kept premiums and profits flowing to the private insurers, thus allowing a continually evolving insurance industry to remain in the business of denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and specific procedures. In other words, the money drove the development of actual health care based on what insurance companies said they’d pay for.

Moreover, a worker’s insurance stopped cold if he or she changed jobs, then often having to wait six months, at least, before her/his new employer’s policy would cover then. More profits.

Never mind how onerous this was to a society’s contract with its citizens to provide a life without fear of losing their healthcare when they contacted an illness or changed their workplaces. And if they were unemployed? Too bad. Nothing. At least, nothing until they qualified for welfare or General Assistance Medical Care (Medicaid in Minnesota). Destitute is what you’d have to be to qualify for governmental medical assistance.

Now the system grew like Topsy, based on fee-for-service reimbursements that ignored the benefits of preventative care and a system of health insurance covering everyone - universal care.

For more than 70 years this has been expanding exponentially with every special interest growing rich off the system that spent most of its time and money denying coverages for people sick and dying without it. For what is profitability if not minimizing expenses, and that is what insurers found easiest to do – by not doing what they were designed to do - paying for health care individuals could not individually afford.

Any wonder why, finally, 70-80% of health care providers - including well-heeled physicians - want out of the fee-for-service system and into some sort of single-payer system where payment for insuring everyone are also guaranteed and the job of paying for health care becomes a right instead of a privilege reserved for those most able to afford it? Also, docs and others have increasingly watched how preventive care actually improves patient care, increases income and reduces trauma.

Any wonder why the massively powerful health insurers and Big Pharma are fighting such a shift tooth and nail, thus buying off the political establishment to prevent such a rational approach from becoming law?

And any wonder why, despite the power and money behind those blocking efforts, rebellion is in the wind? The Occupy movement includes this issue, along with its many other legitimate beefs about the rip-off of society and its least advantaged residents by the controlling corporate culture in the United States.

That Forbes Magazine’s essay on the latest rulemaking by HHS around the ObamaCare law (I like the term ObamaCare - to be adopted like the GLBT community has adopted the term, “Queer” as its own) is really not a warning but a fist-in-the-air “yes” for the requirement that insurers pay out between 80 and 85% of premiums back into real health care/medical costs - not profits, and not expenses in the course of doing business.

For the author, Rick Ungar, the rules are the next step toward a single-payer system, and for Ungar and many of us - it cannot come soon enough. Amen.