One of my relatives received a letter Tuesday from his primary-care physician announcing that he would no longer accept private insurance or government payment. This doctor is moving immediately to accepting only direct payment from patients for his services. This is just the beginning of a cascade of consequences from passage of the federal health care bill.
Here’s some insight into things to come:
• Health insurance will get more expensive for most of us. A few unhealthy people will spend less because of federal subsidies. But two mandates make higher premiums inevitable: Everyone is guaranteed insurance coverage and everyone in your community will pay the same premium. Combine these requirements with the relatively modest IRS fine for not buying insurance as required by law, and it increases the likelihood that only the already-sick will buy coverage. Therefore, insurance premiums will increase.
• It will become harder to get health care. Many doctors, like my relative’s physician, will stop taking insurance (private or government-run), or they will move to another country where we can visit them. Or they will just leave the profession, not wanting to deal with the intrusion that will accompany the new federal mandates.
• States will raise taxes. The federal law expands Medicaid and states are required to match federal funding for the program. States are not as free to borrow and they cannot print money like the federal government. Short of miraculous levels of revenue growth then, states will have to raise taxes to cover the new mandatory expense.
This will only be the beginning. We may not be able to see the ultimate end today, but one thing is certain: save for the few, health care in America just got a lot more expensive.
Dr. Byron Schlomach is an economist and the director of the Center for Economic Prosperity at the Goldwater Institute.
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