Stop the Obamacare Witch Hunt

Republicans forget how lousy the health care system was before the Affordable Care Act.

By SHARE
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Watch out for the hobgoblins! The knives are out. The hearings are on. The charges are flying. Obamacare is on the hot seat … again!

The sad result is that as we get these unconfirmed anecdotes, these stories about problems with insurance companies, these people who face hardship supposedly because of Obamacare, few Republicans think back to pre-2010. Then the costs of health care were skyrocketing – from $1,000 per person in 1980 to about $3,000 in 1990 to $4,000 in 2000 to nearly $8,000 before the Affordable Care Act was passed. The next highest nation for cost: Norway at $5,352.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Obamacare.]

According to the Commonwealth Fund, 49.9 million Americans were without health insurance in 2009, up 13 million from 2000. Houston, we have a problem.

And remember the stories of pre-existing conditions? Getting kicked off your health insurance or unable to get coverage? How about caps on your care? Or huge deductibles, especially for women? Horror story after horror story.

The facts are clear: 17 million Americans had pre-existing conditions; 34 percent lacked coverage for mental health; 62 percent lacked maternity coverage.

How soon we forget the problems that the ACA was written to solve. Right now, only 5 percent of Americans are covered by individual plans – if you had your plan prior to 2010, you are grandfathered in and can keep it. If the insurance companies want to kick you off they have to alter your plan, but they can no longer kick you off because of a pre-existing condition or because you cost them too much.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

Most of these individual plans are renewed yearly and,  according to current figures, 48 percent of those with individual plans would get a tax credit under the Affordable Care Act. The average "rebate" would be $5,500, not exactly chump change. Nearly half of those who believe they are suffering sticker shock from their insurance companies would get better coverage for less money.

So, before more and more people are dragged up before Republican-led congressional committees and berated, maybe it is time to get the facts. Maybe it is also time to work to fix what problems may exist and to offer solutions and not engage in more Salem-like witch trials just before Halloween.

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