The American tradition of voluntary charity has always been the envy of the world, but now, ObamaCare has managed to put obstacles in the way of those who help the poor voluntarily – and directly. Government as a middle man is no longer the only hurdle we face when attempting to help the poor, we now have to deal with ObamaCare as another major impediment to doing good.
In order to motivate lower- and middle-income Americans to sign up for ObamaCare, hospitals across the country have decided to cut down on financial assistance. This trend is now cause for concern among the uninsured who are unable to afford coverage.
The New York Times reports:
The trend is troubling to advocates for the uninsured, who say raising fees will inevitably cause some to skip care rather than buy insurance that they consider unaffordable. Though the number of hospitals tightening access to free or discounted care appears limited so far, many say they are considering doing so, and experts predict that stricter policies will become increasingly common.
Under ACA, hospitals are no longer able to collect as much in federal aid to treat the uninsured and the poor, which is one of the factors that pushed many hospital systems to tighten access to discounted or even free assistance.
Patients “who refuse to purchase federally mandated health insurance when they are eligible to do so will not be awarded charitable care,” the hospital’s revised policy states.
If you don’t comply with the mandate, regardless of whether or not you can afford it, you won’t be awarded charity care. Devastating.
Yes, hospitals would love for states to expand Medicaid to cover these costs, but as we’ve shown repeatedly, Medicaid should be reformed, not expanded if you’re really looking to serve the neediest among us as well as provide a sustainable system.
Today’s reality is more Americans are finding it harder, even impossible to afford insurance after ObamaCare. Unable to afford coverage and remaining uninsured, they become more vulnerable. It’s a vicious cycle, one that should be addressed with markets, not mandates.
What this administration must understand lies beyond rhetoric. Limiting philanthropy is not how you successfully address the poverty issue.
For instance, this past weekend, our family had a yard sale. Among the smattering of clothing and baby items now too small for my growing kids, I also had some decent appliances for sale. Toward the end of the day a woman inquired about the Maytag washing machine I still had available. She told us that she was a mom of five kids and having a working washer would greatly improve her life. She mentioned she was short the total amount we were asking, and I inquired how much could afford. She responded with, “I’ve got $30 bucks on me. That’s a whole lot less than what you’re asking, isn’t it?”
Indeed, it was much less than what we were asking, but I sold it to her for $30 anyway. Why would I do such a thing? I could have refused to accept the lower amount and then donated the unsold washing machine to a local charity. The local charity would have then most likely charged someone upwards of $300 for the nearly new machine, and then turned a small amount of their leftover profit back to helping the poor. Sounds bureaucratic and costly doesn’t it? How much would she have received if I would have taken this route? Hard to say. Would the woman who needed a washer still need a washer? Probably. My goal to help the needy wouldn’t haven’t been met at all.
This isn’t to say local charities aren’t great, many of them are. I support them whenever I can, but the opportunity to help someone presented itself, so I took the direct route.
Why do I bring this up in a post about ObamaCare? Because it’s frustrating and discouraging to know our tax dollars are being misused or even wasted, especially when people in need of actual help are being harmed by the very government programs intended to improve their lives. While the example I gave was about a private charity being somewhat inefficient, government-run charity is not voluntary, it is immoral, and it’s utterly inefficient. Hospitals, because of perverse incentives are now shutting down charity care. We were promised over and over ObamaCare would help the poor. It hasn’t.
We have seen in decades past the increased push for social programs promising to cure society’s ills will not decrease poverty or the number of Americans struggling to make ends meet. We have a failed war on poverty and this administration is continuing to double down on the failed policies of the past.
ObamaCare continues to prove its critics right and the squeeze will continue to be felt by the most vulnerable citizens. Failed policies are causing more Americans than ever to be in need, and unfortunately it doesn’t look like there’s an end in sight anytime soon.