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Republicans Have Health Insurance Amnesia

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The mainstream media has been focused on various aspects of the Affordable Care Act (affectionately known as Obamacare). While the problems are legitimate, the sudden concern from the Right over the cost of premiums and paying for more than you need seem disingenuous.

Thanks to the ACA, millions more Americans will have health insurance. For some that means an increase in premiums. For others it means a reduction. But our system before the ACA wasn't any better. From 1999 to 2009 the cost of health insurance premiums rose 131 percent. And while a rise in premiums under the ACA helped to cover an additional 20 million Americans, the prior 131 percent increase left around 7 million more American uninsured than before.

If cost increases are a big concern, we should also expect some Congressional action on the cost of gas which rose around 140 percent from 1999 to 2008. Over the past 35 years, CEO pay has risen 725 percent, and the cost of a private college education has increased by 128 percent over the past 30 years which is a heavy lift for many, considering that over the past 40 years the number of jobs requiring a college degree went from 26 percent to a whopping 60 percent .

Much has also been made of the president's statement that if you like your policy you can keep it. Certainly insurance companies have decided to drop plans and increase their profit, but it should be noted that only 17 percent of Americans in the individual market maintain their policy for more than 2 years. While the media has made it sound catastrophic, the reality is that very few people would retain their current policy for more than a couple years anyway. The previous system wasn't necessarily any better. Insurance companies were found to drop policies of sick individuals to boost profits. At least under the ACA these people cannot be denied insurance as they were under the old system.

Yet another complaint is that people are paying for services they do not want. But this has been happening in the free market for years.Your cable provider doesn't let you pick and choose which channels you want. They offer a package and you end up paying for a bunch of channels you do not want and never use. When you purchase a car there is a list of included features - whether you want them or not. If you purchase a computer, it comes installed with programs you may not want. It doesn't matter if you use them or not - the cost of these programs are still included in your purchase.

These complaints all rest on the case that the government is forcing you to buy something you do not want, However, Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation found that there is no real enforcement mechanism for the individual mandate. If you don't want to pay the penalty, it turns out there isn't very much the IRS can do to force you to do so.

The one thing you certainly won't hear the MSM talking about is the Republican solutions to fix these problems. Their only real offer so far is a complete repeal, But is anyone happy that we spend twice as much on health care as every other country in the world and get worse results? Are we really OK with having millions of people without insurance because they have a pre-existing condition? Do we really want the most important statistic about our insurance industry to be the earnings per share? Does anyone actually believe the old system was the best we can do?

As much as Republicans dislike the ACA it should be noted that this was not the system Democrats supported either. Democrats favored a single-payer plan. The ACA was a compromise that many on the Left were willing to stomach due the myriad of problems with the private-based system. So if Republicans want a full repeal, many Democrats would be happy to oblige. All they would ask in return is a few Republican votes in the House and the Senate to put all of the problems with the ACA behind us and join the rest of the world by insuring all citizens.

Previously published in the Detroit News.