Grim Lessons in Unintended Consequences

My-unintended-consequencesObamaCare must be stopped.  It’s an unacceptable assault on liberty and it’s an extreme example of the inevitable result of government applying force against The People to achieve the Utopian visions of the elite: Unintended Consequences.

The government’s 2013 fiscal year ends September 30 and once again, Congress has been unable or unwilling to pass normal appropriations bills that would authorize spending in the next fiscal year.  Both the House and the Senate must pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) a device that authorizes spending in fiscal 2014 roughly the same amount that was spent in fiscal 2013.  If a CR is not enacted by October 1 parts of the government will “shut down” until both Houses pass and the President signs a CR.

On Friday the House passed a CR that funds the entire government except for Obamacare.  Harry Reid, leader of the Democrat controlled Senate stomped his foot and announced that he had more than enough votes to amend the CR, adding ObamaCare funding back in, and bounce it back to the House, where it would have to pass in amended form to avoid a government shut down.

The media herd stampeded to attack House Republicans, calling them dangerous, stupid and insane for attempting to block implementation of ObamaCare.  Some Republicans who disagree with the de-funding strategy scorned Conservative/Tea Party Republicans for risking a government shut down over a fight that could not be won.  The political media establishment is obsessed with legislative strategy rather than the merits of de-funding ObamaCare

Government  bureaucracies compile lots of statistics.  They count the employed, the unemployed, the rich and the poor.  Bureaucrats divide us into gender, and ethnic identities and count the populations of each.  Politicians are most enthusiastic about counting real and alleged beneficiaries of their big government schemes. 

While there are always unintended and unanticipated negative consequences when the government intervenes, forcing itself into the private economy, they are usually not widely reported or readily quantifiable.  Politicians and the bureaucrats who work for them systematically avoid reporting negative consequences, or unanticipated harm suffered as a result of social engineering programs enacted by Congress.  There’s a Bureau of Economic Analysis and a Bureau of Labor Statistics, but no Bureau of Harmful Consequences. If there were such a bureau it would be busy these days tallying up the damage from ObamaCare.  Here are just a few of scores of recently disclosed examples:

  • We’re told of millions of young adults who are now covered by their parents’ insurance until age 26 but we are not told what that extra coverage has cost or who has had to pay for it, directly or indirectly. Of course it will be paid for by employers who will have to offset the cost by charging employees more for their health care or paying lower salaries or charging customers higher prices.
  • All across the country hundreds of employers have announced plans to lay off employees or to reduce employees to  fewer than 30 hours per week to avoid ObamaCare insurance mandates they cannot afford.
  • Home Depot announced it will end medical coverage for its 20,000 part time employees because the inexpensive policy it has offered is not permitted under ObamaCare regulations.  The employees will be required by federal law to buy a government approved plan from the ObamaCare exchange which in most cases will cost them more than the portion of the Home Depot policy they now pay.
  • The Cleavland Clinic, a world class medical center lauded by President Obama in 2009 as an example of excellence, announced that it will suffer a $330 million annual revenue loss due to ObamaCare while the cost of treating patients will stay the same.   Therefore the Clinic will be forced to make staff reductions.
  • Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 31% of employees in small firms have policies with deductibles greater than $2,000 per year, which will be forbidden by ObamaCare beginning next year.  Thus health insurance premiums will have to rise for these millions of people and the small companies they work for.
  • Most large companies are self insured.  Instead of paying insurance premiums they pay for their employees’ medical expenses directly.  Beginning next year ObamaCare will impose a new “fee” on self insured employers, based on the number of employees and dependents they insure.  Delta Airlines reports that its fee will add up to more than $10 million per year.  Of course these dollars will buy nothing for the Delta employees whose labor produced them.  Delta could recapture the $10 million by increasing the amount employees pay for their insurance which would make the fee is a hidden employment tax.   Or, if Delta is able to pass this additional cost on to its customers, it’s a tax on airline passengers.

Sometimes negative consequences of government schemes are not unintended.  They’re intentional, but undisclosed.  Remember when Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they would have to “pass the bill so we can find out what’s in the bill”? 

ObamaCare supporters keep telling us their law forces insurance companies to provide “free” stuff.  It’s true that new regulations will require a range of services without any copay or deductible.  But the only way these services could be free is if the doctors and staff who provide them worked for nothing. 

To stay in business Insurance companies must collect more money from customers than they pay out for medical services.  So, the only way to fund free” services is to charge higher premiums!  DUH!  Here are some examples from recent news reports.

  • The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation just issued a report on all eleven insurance compares that will be offering policies in the Florida exchange, comparing the cost of their current individual policies with the the cost of their new ObamaCare compliant policies. The increases average 35%, with the highest at 55%.
  • The Ohio Department of Insurance announced that individual consumers buying ObamaCare-compliant health insurance on the federal government’s health insurance exchange for Ohio will pay an average of 41 percent more than they did in 2013.
  • Maryland’s largest health insurer predicts a 25% increase.
  • In New Jersey a very popular low-cost health plan will no longer be offered. Approximately 106,000 policy holders will be required by federal law to switch to more expensive government approved plans.

Because there is no bureaucracy dedicated to collecting and reporting all the negative consequences ObamaCare supporters get away with dismissing these examples as isolated anecdotes.  They still insist ObamaCare will “save money and improve care in the long run.”  But as we get closer to the 2014 start date we can expect a tsunami of these “anecdotes.”

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