Obamacare Not the Answer

January 21, 2016

Rutland Herlad

 It’s disheartening to see a respected newspaper like the Herald and a celebrated economist like Paul Krugman echo Hillary Clinton’s claim that the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is a great achievement and the best we can get. If so, why are thousands thronging to hear Bernie Sanders and cheering his assertion that health care is a human right which the government should provide? When Krugman’s column ran in the New York Times, hundreds of eloquent reader responses deplored his cynical endorsement of the inadequate status quo.

It is not at all clear that Obamacare has helped more Americans than it has hurt. The boast of millions newly insured means little when many cannot use their policies because of high deductibles, copays and “network” restrictions. Being “insured” through Obamacare does not equal access to health care. We have read recently that increasing numbers of citizens are paying fines rather than buying worthless policies. Certainly, it is good to keep children on family plans until age 26 and to eliminate payment caps and rejection due to pre-existing conditions. But any system should include these provisions. As Sanders points out, 29 million Americans still lack any insurance. And serious illness still often leads to bankruptcy.

Obamacare’s fatal flaw is that it is designed to benefit private insurance companies, rather than removing them from the picture as Sanders advocates. This giveaway, which Clinton would continue, illustrates Sanders’ point that both Clinton and Obama are tied to the giant corporations and their obscenely compensated CEOs. Nearly all modern democracies offer their citizens universal affordable health care. How sad that the Herald, that courageous early supporter of marriage equality, deems Bernie’s concept unrealistically revolutionary.

Judy and Michael Olinick
Middlebury