Americans are fortunate to live in a country where citizens have hardly ever been harmed by an invading army, but nearly every American has suffered at the hands of conservatives. Poor Americans have historically suffered from conservatives’ assaults on their economic well-being and since Republicans took control of the House in 2011, Republicans broadened their attacks to include senior citizens and the middle class. Earlier this year, the Heritage Foundation devised a Medicare privatization scam that Representative Paul Ryan presented as his own and if adopted, it would effectively either send elderly Americans into abject poverty as they would have to choose to survive without healthcare and eat, or starve and have private, inadequate health insurance.
The Heritage plan serves the purpose of handing insurance companies millions of new elderly policy holders who could ill-afford prohibitive premiums, and give Republicans access to the Medicare funds seniors contributed during their working lives. Suffice it to say that the privatization scam offered nothing to elderly Americans, but it gives the insurance industry a captive consumer base that would end up paying more in premiums while receiving less healthcare. Since Republicans are not satisfied cheating seniors and the poor, they have turned their attention to the middle class and figured out a way to reward corporations and the insurance industry while causing working Americans more economic distress.
Ryan’s newest scam involves eliminating tax breaks for employees who are enrolled in their employer’s group healthcare plans, and instead give a tax credit to buy health insurance on an individual basis. According to Ryan, his plan will give consumers the needed incentive to demand more value from their healthcare. He said, “Giving patients and consumers control over health care resources would make all Americans less dependent on big business and big government for our health security; give us more control over the care we get; and force health care providers to compete for our business.” Ryan’s statement sounds suspiciously like his Medicare privatization scam, and if it reaches fruition, will result in 170 million Americans facing the same consequences as the elderly who will end up paying higher costs for less coverage.
If the plan is adopted, it could encourage employees to drop employer health plans and move to individual plans that are prohibitively expensive for less coverage. One of the benefits of group plans are that a larger pool of policy holders results in lower premiums and more coverage. Ryan claims insurance companies would be “forced” into providing better coverage for less money, but a report on Tuesday showed health insurance costs are climbing for companies and their employees, and family premiums are increasing at a pace triple that of last year. Mr. Ryan either does not understand how insurance works or he knows and does not care that individual policies are much higher-priced than group plans.
There is no reasonable explanation for why Ryan thinks that an individual plan is less costly than a group plan, or that individual consumers will be better equipped to force the insurance industry to give more value for policyholder’s dollars. If Americans know one thing about the insurance industry, it is that they are never going to be influenced by consumer complaints or demands for better value. In California late last year, Anthem Blue Cross attempted to raise individual health insurance premiums by 39% for no apparent reason, and Blue Shield planned to raise premiums by 59%. It took intervention by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to stop the outrageous increases, and still, premiums grew by nearly 20% in many areas. At the same time premiums rose in group and individual plans, deductibles and co-pays for services and prescriptions grew by as much as 50% despite objections from employee unions and individuals alike. Ryan claims under his plan, an individual policy holder can demand better value for their money, but he is wrong and he knows he is wrong. In the case of California, outrage from 800,000 individual policyholders had no effect on Anthem Blue Cross and 193,000 Blue Shield policyholders could not halt the proposed 59% increase. It took the full weight of the White House and HHS to stop nearly a million policy holders from facing rising insurance premiums. The insurance industry will never bow to pressure from consumers because they know there are no options available; except the Affordable Health Act passed in 2010, and most Californians understood the premium increases were a direct result of healthcare insurance reform.
Paul Ryan’s plan will most likely fail because Americans are getting wise to the Republicans’ tactics of rewarding corporations and the insurance industry at the expense of every class except the wealthy. His plan would affect 170 million Americans who get their health insurance from their employers’ group plans whether in the private or public sector. The beneficiaries of Ryan’s largesse are big business who will eliminate health insurance benefits and the insurance industry that will get to charge whatever they please. Although Ryan will most likely embark on a propaganda campaign to tout his plan’s benefits, most Americans understand that their bargaining power will be diminished if they are forced to buy insurance on their own.
Republicans voted to assault the elderly with their Medicare privatization scam that increased costs to seniors and put the industry in charge, and now they are extending their assault to include the middle class. No American should be surprised at this latest attempt by Republicans to enrich the insurance industry and big business because it is their standard operating procedure. Americans are suffering from Republican policies on every front and the only thing to do is hang on and wait for the next attempted economic rape. Make no mistake; the next assault is just around the corner and although no-one can predict how Republicans will assail every American except the filthy-rich, it will come and it will be extremely painful because they have nothing but contempt for 95% of the American people.