Five Freedoms you'll lose in ObamaCare

For all of the effort to rapidly pass a health-reform bill, one would think that the entire system had collapsed.  However, Gallup polling shows that 83% of Americans consider themselves satisfied with their current insurance plans, and care continues to excel.  The biggest problem is the cost, which has risen substantially — although as the Washington Post pointed out this weekend, that primarily comes from enormous technological leaps in treatment that saves lives.

Even if cost savings requires health-care reform, what would those 83% of Americans be willing to surrender to get it?  Fortune explains the five freedoms Americans will have to trade for ObamaCare, and why that will be a tough sell to that 83%:

A close reading of the two main bills, one backed by Democrats in the House and the other issued by Sen. Edward Kennedy’s Health committee, contradict the President’s assurances. To be sure, it isn’t easy to comb through their 2,000 pages of tortured legal language. But page by page, the bills reveal a web of restrictions, fines, and mandates that would radically change your health-care coverage.

If you prize choosing your own cardiologist or urologist under your company’s Preferred Provider Organization plan (PPO), if your employer rewards your non-smoking, healthy lifestyle with reduced premiums, if you love the bargain Health Savings Account (HSA) that insures you just for the essentials, or if you simply take comfort in the freedom to spend your own money for a policy that covers the newest drugs and diagnostic tests — you may be shocked to learn that you could lose all of those good things under the rules proposed in the two bills that herald a health-care revolution.

In short, the Obama platform would mandate extremely full, expensive, and highly subsidized coverage — including a lot of benefits people would never pay for with their own money — but deliver it through a highly restrictive, HMO-style plan that will determine what care and tests you can and can’t have. It’s a revolution, all right, but in the wrong direction.

Forget about having any of the following:

  1. Freedom to choose what’s in your plan
  2. Freedom to be rewarded for healthy living, or pay your real costs
  3. Freedom to choose high-deductible coverage
  4. Freedom to keep your existing plan
  5. Freedom to choose your doctors

Only the second actually surprised me.  After all, Barack Obama has talked about making preventive medicine a highlight of his plan, and driving down costs by ensuring that Americans adopt health habits.  But ObamaCare spreads out the effect of that through “community pricing,” not individual pricing.  If you quit smoking in the current system, you can usually expect a cut in your rates.  In ObamaCare, you’ll just have the pleasure of knowing that the cost savings your decision represents will go towards subsidizing the health care of people who refuse to quit smoking.

ObamaCare eventually aggregates everyone into an HMO system from which no one can escape.  Call it the Hospital California; once you’re in this system, you can “check out,” but you can never leave.