A Website Can Be Fixed, But Obamacare Can't Be

Even when HealthCare.gov is finally functional, there will still be lots of problems with Obamacare.

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This photo of part of the HealthCare.gov website is photographed in Washington, on Nov. 29, 2013.
For two months, the White House and the president have been forced to apologize for promoting the website, healthcare.gov, that was riddled with problems and overwhelmed by volume.

In the rising kerfuffle that began when the HealthCare.gov website went live before it was ready, conservatives seem to have lost focus on the essential point. The website is not the problem. It is only a symptom of a much larger disease that will rage on unchecked only until the underlying issue is dealt with.

The fact that people have to wait days to log on, as annoying as that may be, pales in comparison to the other problems with Obamacare that are already evident. As Fox News' Brit Hume said earlier this month, what began as a project to insure the uninsured evolved into something that uninsured the insured. No one, not even the people who thought up this whole mess, regard that as an acceptable outcome.

Even when the website is finally fixed, as it will someday assuredly be, there are still lots of problems with Obamacare. It has forced an increase in health insurance premiums, cut people off from their doctors of choice, interfered with the privacy of medical records and the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship, and set the country on a path toward rationed care that nobody will be able to live with, especially the elderly and those suffering from long-term illnesses.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Obamacare.]

The Heritage Foundation published Tuesday a list of things that will still happen even if HealthCare.gov starts to function as efficiently as Amazon.com does. They are well worth considering:

  1. All of Obama's broken promises. "You can keep your plan." "You can keep your doctor." "Premiums will go down by $2,500 per family." All of these ring hollow for so many Americans now.
  2. The lack of options for insurers on the Obamacare exchanges. Obamacare has reduced competition and choice nationally. Just check out this map to see its effects.
  3. Dumping millions of Americans onto an already broken Medicaid program. Access to care and health outcomes are both worse under Medicaid than private insurance. Expanding the program to "cover" more people isn't giving them quality coverage.
  4. Penalties for getting married — and success at work. Obamacare's financial incentives discourage marriage and for some workers, they will even discourage working harder and getting a raise. Why should a health care law be punishing these positive behaviors?
  5. Obamacare's trampling on religious liberty. Because of its coercive mandates, Obamacare forces many employers to purchase government-approved health insurance that covers abortion-inducing drug s — and that runs counter to a lot of Americans' beliefs. Religious beliefs and the freedom to operate a private business based on those beliefs are in danger.
  6. The jobs Obamacare has killed. Even though the Administration delayed the employer mandate, that hasn't stopped jobs from being cut, workers' hours from being cut, and employers struggling with the law's new costs.
  7. [See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

    As Congress and the president move forward into the New Year, they would all do well to acknowledge that, as designed, Obamacare is too big a program to function efficiently without compromising the quality of medical care most Americans – even those on Medicare and Medicaid – receive on a daily basis. 

    The challenges inherent in "bending the cost curve" of American medicine do involve changes in the system as it exists today, but most of those involve taking government out of the picture and allowing market forces a greater role in setting prices. Greater attention should also be paid to the solutions to crises that can be found today through more intensive research and a streamlining of the drug approval process for diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's that will impose tremendous new costs on the economy – both in terms of what is being spent on actual care and in the lost future productivity of American workers – even just twenty years down the road.

    There are solutions to the problems we actually face – which, by the way, are not necessarily what the president and his allies have said the problems are. Access to care is not as big an issue as Obama and others suggest it is. Neither is a lack of ability to enter the insurance market. Yet both were considered primary objectives of Obamacare, while the real concerns, like costs and the mandates that drive up some of those costs, were given nary a second thought. What Barack Obama has prescribed for the country is harsh medicine and, even if the surgery on the HealthCare.gov is a success, we can still expect that the patient will die.

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