Cruel, dismissive Obamacare: People are just statistics

Designed to hurt, right from the start.

And even though people are just statistics, the Obamacare planners still didn’t get it right.

Here’s a fun quote from a health-care industry consultant in November 2013 (emphasis added):

Some advocates argue that these narrow networks [with fewer doctors and hospitals in them] are a fine way to cut costs. They note that the majority of people expected to buy coverage on the exchanges are uninsured, and that even a narrow network is better than nothing.

Insurers “looked at the people expected to go on the exchanges and thought: ‘These are people coming out of the ranks of the uninsured. They don’t care about the Mayo Clinic or the Cleveland Clinic. They will go to community providers,’ ” explained Robert Laszewski, a consultant to the health-care industry.

But, of course, most of the people who have bought coverage on the exchanges are not the uninsured, but the previously insured whose old plans were cancelled.  To date, only 11% of plans bought on the exchanges went to people who were previously uninsured.

Why does this matter?  Because the restrictions that came with the new plans are actively threatening medical care for people who, before 31 December 2013, did not have trouble getting it.


Statistical casualty. (Photo credit: Herald Sun)
Statistical casualty. (Photo credit: Herald Sun)

Some of those people are the 125 children for whom Seattle Children’s Hospital has been unable to obtain payment authorization from Obamacare insurance plans.  (For more detail on the story, see here.)

Seattle Children’s treats children with the worst and most complicated medical problems.  There are two levels of concern for patients whose plans won’t pay for treatment there.  One is that the procedure needed may not be available at another, reasonably located hospital in the region.  The other is that, even when procedures are available, Seattle Children’s is still the only hospital that offers all forms of care in the same place, so that a tiny 35-pound patient doesn’t have to be hauled all over town to see doctors in different hospitals and clinics.  This is an especially common issue for children with unusual medical problems.

Since 1 January, Seattle Children’s has made 200 requests for payment exceptions on behalf of these 125 children (who are patients previously covered by insurance plans that worked with the hospital).  As of yesterday, the hospital has received 20 responses, 8 of which were denials.  The hospital went ahead and treated the 8 patients, but can’t continue to do that without compensation.

There have been numerous reports of adults whose medical care was quite literally interrupted – with possibly severe health consequences – because of the Obamacare mandate.  See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

What the Obamacare law does is increase the squeeze of law on everyone involved in the health care process: the patient, the doctor, the other care providers, the hospital, the clinic, health-care corporation, or practice, the insurer, the pharmacy, the pharmaceutical company, and the medical device company (along with all others inadvertently left out of this list).  The law was designed from the outset to do that, as a way of trying to control statistical outcomes.  You can’t let people have the freedom to make choices, and also control outcomes.

That’s the big difference between Obamacare (indeed, all national-health proposals) and health-care freedom: the latter doesn’t intentionally curtail choice and prevent care in the interest of statistical outcomes.  Health-care freedom has a respectful approach to the individual, seeing him not as a statistic but as a fellow human and moral actor.

Some individuals, at some times, need help obtaining medical care.  But the help afforded them should be humane and personal.  It’s not a form of “help,” to adopt a policy of statistical manipulation that harms people over here, in order to change a collateral statistical fact (“insurance”) about people over there.

Implementing the Obamacare mandate has clarified that as perhaps nothing else would have.  There was no way to implement this law without hurting people.  It’s immoral and inherently dysfunctional to make policy about people based on statistics – which is why government should always be extremely limited in its scope of action, especially when it’s so far removed from the people that its only meaningful view of them is a statistical one.

Wishing things were different will never make it so.  It is impossible to improve people’s lives, or the world, or the course of the future, by trying to manipulate human beings with the goal of statistical “victories.”

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard online. She also writes for the new blog Liberty Unyielding.

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10 thoughts on “Cruel, dismissive Obamacare: People are just statistics”

  1. It is called Utilitarianism. It runs hand in hand with Social Darwinism, and Fascism, where some type of supernumerary decides who is worthy of what level of regard from society…. even up to and including whether or not one is a “who” and not an unfortunate “what”.

    Death Panels

    And everyone who pooh-poohed the term, and denigrated the originators of this very accurate descriptive label should be publicly denounced, often and vociferously.

    First humans weren’t humans because of private choice. Then they weren’t alive or worthy of life because of proxied choice, and now the proxy will be a dispassionate board of “experts” with protecting the system as its main responsibility.

    again… DEATH PANELS

    h/t to Sarah Palin… Dear Governor Palin, You were right. Regards, TMF

  2. Of course, the unspoken irony here is that the system which prioritizes statistics over persons in the long run goes statistically bankrupt. That is how we can measure the moral position. Not to put to fine a point on it: morality works.

    1. You’re right, dumb0x, it does. It’s the only approach that makes sense, because morality assumes that everyone matters. That means more than simply that we all have a right to be respected or considered or valued. It means that if we want the world to be a better place, each and every one of us has to behave morally. We can’t delegate it to others. We can’t appoint others to bear the burdens of morality so we don’t have to.

  3. If they used a little more cold, hard mathematical calculus, they would admit that every major feature of the Affordable Care Act increases the costs of medical care. Can you get everything wrong just by incompetence? The odds say no. It has to be by design.

    1. You may be right, Vin. That said, Obamacare doubles back on itself in so many ways that it really would be beyond the capability of even the most ingenious devil to “design” it so brilliantly.

    2. NO – I think they really had no idea how it worked – didn’t really care if it did or didn’t, but hoped it would – and realized in the end they would all enrich themselves with the additional economic activity that must go through them (with their skim off the top). It is nothing more than that. These people are crooks, and quite evil. The death of their fellow citizens so they can steal money from the companies being regulated in the health care industry is on their hands.

  4. TMF — I had the same reaction to the Seattle Children’s story. Death panels! When they’re buried under a couple of intermediary layers — the hospital administration, the insurance company — the government, which is the actual driver of the death-panel policy, has plausible deniability with much of the population.

    We’ve let government get so big and entrenched that it’s all but impossible for the average person to conceive of how extensively his life is regulated by it.

  5. A contrarian and possibly hard hearted point of view if I may.
    There are three major stages in life for the average Joe.
    1. The realization that Santa Claus doesn’t exist.
    2. The birth of a child means you are no longer number 1.
    3. You will die and the world will will go forth as always.

    Most ‘retail” decisions in life are driven by cost and choice. The are many hidden costs, credits, and government largesse intertwined with the free market, but you pay the price on the tag.
    Health Care is and has been a different animal. Co pays and deductibles provided by insurance is simply off track betting. You bet you are going to be seriously ill or be incapacitated. The insurance company is betting than your risk spread out over a wider group will defeat your bet that you will receive more benefits than money you pay into the betting pool.
    The insurance folks are a bit more informed on this subject than the average Joe. Surprise!
    We baby boomers are driving this problem ultimately. We are very special. We built modern America. We enlarged schools and universities by our very presence and numbers. Consumption has been shaped and directed by…….us. We fought wars and built malls.
    We are indispensable. We must spend unlimited amounts of other people’s money because….we……built all of this.Hey, another 300K or 400K to survive in pain and depression for another 60 days. It is our birthright.
    Poor people showing up at the emergency room are not the problem. The uninsured are not the problem. Not in the stars, but in us,right?
    Charles de Gaulle was once asked about the removal of a govt. minister. His
    interlocutor described the minister as indispensable. de Gaulle replied ” the graveyards are filled with indispensable men.”
    Government’s tend to fill in a vacuum. Lack of backbone, responsibility and purpose by we boomers are leading to Death Panels. The government should not be involved.
    I would much prefer to drop dead on a sunny warm day, working in the out doors, ( I guess that Santa Claus thing is hard to get rid of),but hope to have the grace and good sense not to put my family through hell because I am selfish and do not care about anyone but myself.

  6. I hear you, WR, but I don’t really think of yours as a contrarian point of view.

    What matters is who’s doing the deciding, you or the government. It’s 100% guaranteed that overall, a government commission is willing to accept worse outcomes for your life than you are.

    And the truth is, it’s rarely a decision between keeping someone alive with a bad quality of life, and the person dropping dead while working outside. The decision is typically between a bad and a good quality of life for someone who isn’t going to drop dead tomorrow.

    It’ll be things like cutting off the limb and giving you a prosthetic instead of saving the limb. It’ll be not trying to restore mobility to an 82-year-old who’s broken her hip, because she’s 82. It’ll be a lot more things like this. The government will choose the worse quality-of-life course, whenever it’s the one making the decision.

    Keep in mind, in the regime Obamacare is driving us toward, there IS no scenario in which you have choice about your medical care. The real counterpoint isn’t between people demanding heroic measures they can’t pay for on one side, and government wanting to save money on the other. The counterpoint is between people being able to make choices about what’s most important to them, and government not letting them.

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