If the individual mandate cost $25 a month, would the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act be debated in the U.S. Supreme Court this week? Perhaps not.
The individual mandate is a distraction from the real issue that the health care reform law didn't fix: health care is too expensive and unaffordable.
See what Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said on ABC News last January when she was asked what people should do when their health insurance premiums increase too much.
She replied, "They should contact the governor of their state and state legislature demanding that those laws be changed."
The health care reform law didn't really make health care affordable. It papered over the real cost with subsidies.
Why isn't health care affordable? Health care has caught the Wall Street fever and become just like the banks. See how health care and the banks operate the same way, documented in The Battle Over Health Care: What Obama's Reform Means for America's Future.
Just like the banks, health care has its own price bubbles, toxic assets, too-big-to-fail syndrome, conflicts of interest, the ratings game, and the tendency to privatize gains and socialize losses.
The result? Even with the reform law and subsidies, the cost will still be high for many Americans.
A single 60-year old woman earning $48,000 won't be eligible for subsidies and will pay more than $10,000 a year for health insurance, in addition to out-of-pocket expenses.
A family of four with a 40-year old head of household earning $48,000 will pay more than $3,000 a year even with subsidies.
Health care reform merely transferred the risk of bankruptcy of individuals to the risk of bankruptcy of the federal government. And there is nothing in the health care reform law to stop the bleeding.
This is what Americans should be protesting about -- call it Occupy Wall Street Health Care.
Rosemary Gibson led national quality and safety initiatives at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, NJ for 16 years. She is the author of The Wall of Silence and The Treatment Trap: How the Overuse of Medical Care is Wrecking Your Health and What You Can Do To Prevent It.
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