Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why Life Expectancy Will Decline Under ObamaCare

I have consistently pointed out that ObamaCare will result, within two to three years of its implementation, in a decline in life expectancy in the United States.

This is chiefly because ObamaCare looks at healthcare from the macro-position of its proportion to total GDP, without allowing for individual choice.

Because the structure of ObamaCare will be decisions at the macro-level in a structure that will be co-opted by the politically connected parts of the health care industry, the connection between patient and individual care will continue to be cut.

It will have little to do with cutting costs since the connected healthcare providers will not see their costs cut, but this will mean even more drastic cuts for those providers that are not as connected. Thus, the scale of treatments and the quantity supplied of the scaled-back treatments will decline. This will ultimately result in earlier deaths.

Never mind the tragedy of less innovation and creativity in the healthcare sector, it will be much worse. Those who ever drove from north of NYC into the city on FDR drive (appropriately named) in the 1970's and 1980's had the opportunity to see the abandoned and destroyed buildings of the South Bronx and Harlem. They were destroyed because of a mad combination of rent controls and climbing property taxes. The property owners just abandoned the buildings. That is the type of destruction you will witness under ObamaCare in the health sector.

Maybe some in Congress are starting to get it. In today's WSJ Senator Tom Coburn writes:

I recently suggested that seniors will die sooner if Congress actually implements the Medicare cuts in the health-care bill put forward by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. My colleagues who defend the bill—none of whom have practiced medicine—predictably dismissed my concern as a scare tactic. They are wrong. Every American, not just seniors, should know that the rationing provisions in the Reid bill will not only reduce their quality of life, but their life spans as well.

My 25 years as a practicing physician have shown me what happens when government attempts to practice medicine: Doctors respond to government coercion instead of patient cues, and patients die prematurely. Even if the public option is eliminated from the bill, these onerous rationing provisions will remain intact.

For instance, the Reid bill (in sections 3403 and 2021) explicitly empowers Medicare to deny treatment based on cost. An Independent Medicare Advisory Board created by the bill—composed of permanent, unelected and, therefore, unaccountable members—will greatly expand the rationing practices that already occur in the program. Medicare, for example, has limited cancer patients' access to Epogen, a costly but vital drug that stimulates red blood cell production. It has limited the use of virtual, and safer, colonoscopies due to cost concerns. And Medicare refuses medical claims at twice the rate of the largest private insurers.

Section 6301 of the Reid bill creates new comparative effectiveness research (CER) programs. CER panels have been used as rationing commissions in other countries such as the U.K., where 15,000 cancer patients die prematurely every year according to the National Cancer Intelligence Network. CER panels here could effectively dictate coverage options and ration care for plans that participate in the state insurance exchanges created by the bill.

It's not clear from his op-ed whether he understands that the free market is the solution but he sure understands that government meddling in patient choices will only cause less health treatment.

Bottom line: ObamaCare is about turning the bodies of the elderly and ill into the equivalent of the abandoned buildings that were part of Harlem and the South Bronx under that government meddling.


  1. In citing cost-related denials, neither you nor Coburn put them in the context of denials that are routine by private payers, which happen all the time (and happened to me just yesterday).

    Also, I'd like to see the data and context of the assertion that Medicare denies at twice the rate of private payers, and why.

  2. As I pointed out in my post, I do not believe that Coburn understands the free market is the answer. I do. Thus, Medicare to me is a poor replacement for the free market for the simple reason choice is taken away from me on medical decisions and left up to deciders.

    As for the "private payer system" in my book that's another rigged system that would never appear on a free market. If you really had a choice, would you really subscribe to an insurance plan that is going to deny you payment on legitimate claims. It's a rigged system and Obamacare is about tightening the knots on what is already rigged and rigging even more sectors.