“I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam I am.”
Most people probably remember the story “Green Eggs and Ham,” Dr. Seuss' children's book/cautionary tale about pre-judging something that has never been tried.
Many people are not taking the moral of that story to heart when it comes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. “Obamacare.” The outcry has been loud and long: It's a government takeover. It's a huge tax. It will destroy the U.S. health care system. It will cause plagues of locusts. It will make puppies cry. Vows have been made to attempt to repeal the act — before all of its provisions have even been implemented.
I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam I am.
In dozens — probably more like hundreds — of conversations I have had with business owners in the HVAC industry over the years, there has been a common theme: health care costs are killers. They are constantly rising, stressing the budgets of both employers and employees, and there's no end in sight. Insurance companies are turning people away because of pre-existing conditions, capping yearly and lifetime benefits, requiring pre-authorizations before allowing testing or care (the dreaded “rationing” so many people seem to fear), and, most recently, requiring their members to submit to blood tests, physicals, and so on to get their most favorable rate. Those who choose not to have their blood drawn by an insurance company pay a higher rate — a penalty, if you will.
Yeah, all that stuff is here right now.
So, finally, along comes a plan from the government (that would be we, the people) to attempt to address these issues. It calls for everyone to purchase health care insurance or pay a penalty. It creates competition among insurers while funneling millions of new individuals to them to purchase their products. It creates incentives for health-care providers to provide the best care in the most efficient ways possible. (For those of you who would like a quick, non-partisan primer on the major provisions of law, this is nine minutes well-spent: tinyurl.com/hcmainstreet.)
And yet a large and vocal segment of the population hates the plan and wants to do away with it immediately. To replace it with what? A return to the system that has been crushing them for the past decade?
I'm not saying the new law is perfect. It's a complex solution to a complex problem. But we all know the system we've been living with is far from perfect, too. And anyone who has ever been treated to a seminar presented by a motivational speaker has certainly heard one thing over and over again: Embrace change. Don't fight change. Change is good. Find ways to make change work for you. Change makes puppies smile.
I suggest patience and an open mind. Step back and examine what our government is trying to do here. Try to stop thinking that there's nothing in this plan for you. No one knows what the future holds. The lifting of limits on lifetime benefits, preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals who have pre-existing conditions, allowing children to be covered on their parents' plans until the age of 26 — all of those provisions could work to your benefit someday, or the benefit of your spouse or children.
Try to stop thinking that this plan is a “government takeover.” Most state governments already mandate that if you want to drive a car, you must purchase automobile insurance. No free rides at the expense of others. What's the difference between that and mandating that individuals who want to use the health care system must purchase insurance or pay a penalty? If you're already buying insurance (as it's likely the vast majority of readers of this blog are) you should be cheering that mandate, not railing against it.
Try to embrace change and imagine that this plan just might actually play out very well. It's possible that 10 years down the road, business owners and employees will look back on a decade of Obamacare and say, “Wow, it has really worked.”
In the meantime, resistance and petulance are anyone's options, and you are welcome to them. But I think a wiser course of action is to try those green eggs and ham. It was true in 1960 when the good Dr. Seuss wrote that book, and it's true today.