Laurel Smith, 56, of Medford, N.J., attends a protest outside the office of Rep. Tom MacArthur of R-NJ., in Marlton, N.J., last week. She says she’s concerned that repeal of the Affordable Care Act could affect health insurance coverage for her son, 26-year-old son, Jamieson Smith, who has a rare sickness called mitochondrial disease. (AP Photo/Mike Catalini)

KADNER: Health insurance American-style is always a disaster

SHARE KADNER: Health insurance American-style is always a disaster
SHARE KADNER: Health insurance American-style is always a disaster

Having invented the square wheel, the United States government decided to take a hard look at replacing it with something resembling a triangle.

This is how we do national health insurance in America. While the rest of the civilized world has been using a round wheel (single-payer national health insurance) for decades, the U.S. decided to rely primarily on private insurance companies until Obamacare was passed.

The reason for Obamacare was that millions of Americans were uninsured. Some people were basically denied insurance because they had pre-existing conditions and the insurance companies can make more money insuring healthy people.


In fact, the private insurance companies make billions of dollars every year and many Americans are proud of that because they believe in capitalism, which values profits over people.

Nevertheless, there was a health insurance reform uprising, which is one of the reasons Barack Obama was elected president in 2008.

In a perfect world, our country might have formed a blue ribbon panel composed of businessmen, medical experts and political leaders from both parties who would have spent a year studying every other health insurance system in the world and given us a plan that was better than the rest.

But that didn’t happen.

Instead, Obama announced that he wasn’t going to propose single-payer universal health insurance. Then Democrats in Congress spent a year arguing among themselves about the types of plans most likely to pass, which had nothing to do with providing the best health care at the cheapest cost or even quality health insurance.

Their talks focused on what they could pass and the essential ingredients needed to appease the masses, such as requiring private insurance companies to insure even people who were sick (those with pre-existing conditions) and providing health insurance to more poor people (by expanding Medicaid).

It was a terrible plan, designed to ultimately fail, but the Democrats considered it a start that perhaps could someday lead to true single-payer universal health care.

The program limped along and began to fall apart when Donald Trump came along and said that as a businessman and a compassionate human being, he would eliminate the disaster that was Obamacare and replace it with something far better. He never said what they would be and later admitted it was far more complicated than he imagined.

And so here we are.

Republican congressmen, who spent years complaining about Obamacare, have spent months trying to replace it. There has been no study of what works in other countries or what would be best for the United States. The focus has been mostly on keeping the things that made Obamacare very popular (eliminating prohibitions against pre-existing conditions and keeping some of the Medicaid expansion), while cutting billions of dollars in government spending so income taxes could eventually be lowered for rich people.

Despite all the political bickering in America, Democrats and Republicans in Washington have agreed on some important things. Health insurance companies should continue making huge profits at the expense of consumers and there should be no plan that impacts drug company profits.

And so the debate rages over competing health care plans that are among the worst devised by modern man. They don’t work. Can’t work. And everyone knows it.

There are those (including Trump?) who now prefer returning to the original pre-Obamacare system. The burden for health insurance is placed squarely on the backs of working stiffs, who are sometimes crushed under the weight. This eliminates the need for wheels of any sort.

In a free market system, there are going to be casualties. That’s why health insurance company stocks are always a good buy.


Send letters to:

The Latest
The Hawks have conceded the first goal in eight consecutive games. And after falling 7-2 on Sunday, they’ve now lost seven games in a row. The trends are no coincidence.
Tim Degnan a trusted point man, was key to Richard M. Daley’s political, policy success. As a lawmaker, he raised funds for the new Comiskey Park to keep the White Sox in Chicago.
“Fuentes is among the most prominent and unapologetic antisemites around,” David Goldenberg, the Anti-Defamation League director of the Midwest regional office, told the Chicago Sun-Times on Sunday.
The Bears’ very, very bad day started with quarterback musical chairs and went down from there.
A photo on social media shows the word “Evil” spray-painted in red on Al Capone’s grave marker.