Single-Payer is Here!

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You don’t have to wait any longer – the progressive wet dream has come true! Single-payer health insurance is here! Can I get a “Hallelujah”?

According to an article on the left-leaning website Vox.com, 960 counties across the US have only 1 insurer choice available on Healthcare.gov. That is over 40% of the counties served by the federal insurance exchange.

If you are one of the lucky Americans who lives in one of these counties you don’t have to worry about trying to determine the pros and cons of competing plans … because there are NO competing plans. You just sign up for the only option available. That’s almost as good as voting in North Korea!

Liberals have been telling us for years how great single-payer will be. It will make things more efficient by eliminating administrative costs and giving the single insurer monopoly power to negotiate lower service and drug prices. Thus you will be charged less for your insurance making it more affordable.

Wow! That sounds awesome! I’m so glad I live in one of the counties that will have only one choice for 2017. I can’t wait to see how much money I’m going to save.

I’ve been buying health insurance for myself since 2003. By 2013 my premiums had risen to $218/month with a $5,000 deductible and 20% co-pay for pre-deductible office visits. That means I had to pay over $2,600 per year just to get my insurer to pony up $80 the one time a year I visited a doctor (however, my insurance did cover half my costs in 2006 when I had 2 operations).

My insurance plan was grandfathered in 2014, so Obamacare didn’t kick in for me until 2015, and boy was that a shock! The cheapest ACA plan (I don’t qualify for welfare … Um, I mean a subsidy) was $480/month with a $5,000 deductible and a 100% co-pay until I met the deductible. Holy smokes! I would’ve had to pay $10,760 before the insurance would have kicked in a dime – WTF!

It got worse in 2016. The insurance rose 7.3% to $515/month with the same deductible and co-pay. So I was on the hook for $11,180.

What was the reason for these outrageous figures? There can only be one explanation … I had a choice. My county, Watauga in North Carolina, had 2 insurance companies on the exchange. I did not have the efficiency of single-payer working to lower my premiums.

But now I do.

I’m expecting a YUGE cut in premiums.

Let’s log onto Healthcare.gov and find out how much I’m going to save!

(Half an hour passes as I stumble through the endless rat-hole of this website trying to find actual prices)

Finally … the magic moment when I find out the premiums … I click the button “See All Plans” and voilà …

JESUS MARY AND JOSEPH!

$771 a month! With a $7,150 deductible!

WHAT THE HELL!

Not only is that NOT a cut, it is a whopping 49.7% premium hike! That is $9,252 for the year just for the privilege of having insurance. And if I ever make the mistake of actually going to a doctor or a hospital it will cost me $16,402 before my insurance would pay for anything. Single-payer my ass!

Some of you might think this problem only exists where I live. That means some of you would be wrong. I checked several other cities across the country where there is only 1 insurer available on the exchange using the same data I input for myself in North Carolina – 53 year-old male, non-smoker, $60,000 in income. Here are the results (premiums listed are for 2017 with the % rise from last year):

Scottsdale, AZ           $711/month, $6,800 deductible       Up 177%
Tulsa, OK                   $582/month, $6,800 deductible       Up 84%
Birmingham, AL        $566/month, $6,450 deductible       Up 45%
Harpers Ferry, WV    $585/month, $6,500 deductible       Up 40%
Casper, WY                $687/month, $4,500 deductible       Up 5%
Knoxville, TN             $521/month, $4,800 deductible       Up 0%

Why the big discrepancy in the percentages? It’s because three of these cities were already down to one insurer last year. Can you guess which three? If you said Harpers Ferry, Casper, and Knoxville then you win a chicken dinner. But already having single-payer didn’t help the unfortunate residents of Harpers Ferry, they still got a 40% hike.

Scottsdale, Tulsa, and Birmingham all had multiple companies selling on the exchange last year. As soon as the competing insurers dropped out the premiums shot through the roof. The poor Scottsdalians are getting flat out mugged.

Whenever you only have one provider in a market you have a monopoly. And when you have a monopoly you get monopoly pricing. Single-payer is a monopoly. But Obamacare is even worse than your normal cable company or electric company monopoly. Those monopolies can’t coerce you to buy their products, but the health exchange insurer can. If you don’t buy the insurer’s plan then you can be fined … um, I mean taxed. And if the state doesn’t let the insurer charge obscene premiums then the insurer can threaten to pull out of the market leaving zero insurers. Then what will you do?

I can hear some of you screaming at your computer “but this isn’t what people mean when they talk about single-payer!” I know that. They mean they want the government to be the only health insurer you can use. So what? The only difference between having the government as the only insurer and having a private company as the only insurer is that the government will do a worse job.

Government run single-payer is still a monopoly. They will still charge monopoly prices, maybe not as premiums (It will be free – Woo Hoo!) but in the form of higher taxes. And you will have the people who caused the housing crisis, who turned the Post Office and Amtrak into black holes of debt, and who killed hundreds of vets at the VA running the show.

If you think Obamacare sucks now wait until you get government single-payer and everything is “free”.

No choice, higher costs, and terrible management – single-payer is gonna be spectacular!

Wayne Middlesteadt is the author of Five Ways to Beat the Market and The Golden Age of Distance Running.

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Wayne Middlesteadt is a 1986 graduate of Georgia Tech and has an MBA from Georgia State University. Currently working as a financial writer and track and field historian, his latest book is Five Ways To Beat The Market.