There is No ‘Obamacare Marketplace’! That’s the Problem

“From Anthem to Aetna, major health insurers are leaving ObamaCare marketplace,” reads a headline.

Actually, what is a marketplace?

A marketplace implies a context where two or more willing parties voluntarily make an exchange. The exchange is agreeable to both parties, because each deems his or her situation improved by making a trade.

In a marketplace, the various parties set and agree to the terms. In a true insurance marketplace, health insurance companies would tell potential customers, “Here’s what we offer you in exchange for the premium”. People buying the various insurance plans would decide if it’s worth it, or not, continually evaluating their purchase over time, in accord with the terms of the contract. The terms of the agreement are ultimately set by buyer and seller — not by third parties with coercive power, like the government.

In the so-called health insurance “marketplace”, especially since Obamacare, it’s nothing like a real marketplace. Terms are set almost exclusively by the federal government. Insurance companies are told that they must insure people whether they’re sick or not, and charge the same premiums regardless. It would be like the federal government commanding car insurance companies to cover (and charge the same for) people who crash their cars five times a year. It would be like requiring property insurers to cover arsonists who burn down their houses six times a year because of a psychological compulsion. It’s madness, but when it’s Obamacare we’re told that it’s enlightened and compassionate.

In a real marketplace for anything, a business makes a profit. When a business stops making a profit, it’s considered a failure. Something has gone wrong. In health insurance, you’re morally condemned when you make a profit. And yet when you go out of business, as insurance companies (even big ones) are starting to do under Obamacare, you’re likewise morally condemned for abandoning the sick. You cannot win according to the rules of Obamacare. Why not? Because Obamacare attempts to make health insurance a marketplace while permitting none of the parties involved any element of freedom or choice. It’s like a sick joke.

“Repeal and replace.” Replace with WHAT? That’s the question.

We have two alternatives to Obamacare. One is complete deregulation of the medical marketplace. This means leaving it to customers and businesses to set the terms of health insurance coverage, with government intervening only in cases where evidence of fraud exists. It’s called a free market, like we more or less enjoy for many other things we purchase in daily life. The federal government does not set the price for the food you buy at the grocery store, your local restaurant, your local clothing store, or most other things you buy. It doesn’t determine you need steak when perhaps you just want a hamburger, or a tuxedo when perhaps you just want a pair of jeans. It does so in Communist or other totalitarian countries, and those countries always end up in huge trouble, just like the United States now faces with medical care.

The other alternative is “dropping the middleman” altogether. This means getting rid of health insurance companies once and for all, and making the federal government the single payer for everything. The naiveté, ignorance and dishonesty in this proposal should be clear. There is no bigger, more inconsiderate, more bureaucratic or inhumane middleman than the federal government.

Government is the ultimate monopoly. Making government the single payer of health care also means making it the single controller of health care. Democrats and progressives, do you really want the Trump Administration in charge of all medical care, any more than Trump supporters want a Democrat in charge of all things medical? Politicians and government officials are the last people we want in charge of medicine. Medical professionals and patients should be in charge of medicine. There’s no other solution.

We’re stuck because most do not realize the truth, or will not face it. The truth could set us free. If only more of us would face it!

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