Obamacare and the No Free Lunch Principle

Like most of my blogs, this one is starting because of something that I heard (from a left-wing nut-job, of course) that has been bothering me quite a bit.

I was using Twitter in the way that most conservatives do….to find and pass along info the Main Stream Media glossed over or passed on entirely, and began my second favorite use of Twitter: arguing with a liberal.

The thing that really got to me was the way he wrote me off, as most Leftists and Liberals do when they hit a brick wall while in a discussion/argument with a Conservative; by calling me a racist Republican.  Sorry, wrong on both counts, but good try.  Do they not understand that most of the intelligent world has caught on to that cop-out and understands it’s the Liberal “white flag” meaning that you know you’ve been beat?

The argument which preceded my mislabeling was about Obamacare and the recent tax increases.  Before it devolved into name calling, he asked what was to me a funny question: “How do you not understand that raising taxes on the rich and providing free care to everyone is needed for our economy?  Don’t you know anything about Economics????”

Funny enough, yes.  I have a Bachelors Degree in Marketing, owned my own business in college and am now working in the business office of one of the nation’s top 5 hospitals….I left the Army part of my resume out because, while the government spending side of the argument will play in here, my role as a Green Beret didn’t have much to do with spending decisions or economics.  But based on the other experience, I’d say I have a little more Economics background, both Macro and Micro, than the average journalist writing for a left-wing online publication.

I was introduced to the “No Free Lunch” principle in Honors Economics class in High School.  My teacher was one of my top 5 I’ve ever had, and she is probably the reason I never switched majors in college and knew Business was for me from Day 1.

There are quite a few places you can find this principle quoted and explained on the internet; basically, the principle says that nothing is free….and the principle can be applied to any tangible good, such as a lunch, or an intangible good, as the time taken to sit down to said lunch.

This is because even if you aren’t paying for it, somebody is.  There is an entire supply chain that is required to turn grain into wheat, wheat into bread, package that bread, ship it to the restaurant, etc.  Even if the restaurant bakes its own bread, chances are they got the ingredients from someone else, and even if it was at no cost, the time spent procuring these items is valuable.

There is another great example I read about Bill Gates online this morning; it is estimated he makes about $250/second, so if he were walking down the street and saw a $100 bill, would he bother to bend over and pick it up?  If so, his opportunity cost in the 4 seconds it took him to pick up $100 would have lost him $900.  Basic Economics and Business 101, although these principles should obviously be applied to things besides walking down the street and eating a sandwich.

So, now that I’ve scratched the surface and saved you a couple of grand on Micro and Macro Economics classes, back to my current job (besides author, which is why you’re probably reading this blog in the first place).  My 9-5 is in the business office of one of the top 5 hospitals in the nation.

As such, I get a lot of notifications to changes in our contracts with many of our suppliers of medical devices.  Health Care is a big business these days, and if you didn’t know that, you’re not paying attention.

I received a notification today that another one of our device manufacturers is increasing their prices and lowering services because they have to fire staff.  Why?  Because of the new 2.3%  Federal Excise Tax on Medical Devices for Obamacare.  I also have many sales representatives from these companies who are having their pay reduced, having the taxes taken out of their commissions, or are being required to pay in other ways.

But I thought Obamacare was the Panacea to end all of our ills?  Isn’t it just a harmless ray of sunshine, made to spread love and care throughout the world with no unintended consequences or victims?  And didn’t the President say it would come at no extra cost???

Well, that’s certainly how it was portrayed, but the answers to those questions is No, No, and NO.

Here’s the most basic thing I’ve learned through my time working on the business side of hospitals: insurance companies and medical manufacturers (you can even include Big Pharma in there) ALWAYS win, and they ALWAYS pass the bill along to the consumers.

One of my sales rep friends told me a funny story about a company trip to New York for a business conference last year.  He had never been to Manhattan before, and he said he was dumbfounded the first time he saw it, especially working in the medical industry.  Next time you’re there or see a picture, pay attention to who owns most of the tallest buildings: insurance companies.

I work for a teaching and community hospital; long story short, that means we provide top-tier medical treatment to anyone, regardless of insurance status.  But I thought that didn’t exist and Obamacare was fixing that?  Wrong again.  We have multiple hospitals in our enterprise, and a number very close to 50% of our patients are either Medicare, Medicaid, CCS, International Clinic, Childrens Hospital, Veterans Administration, or no insurance at all.  And Obamacare is going to hurt us.

You see, even though we see all of these patients on government sponsored programs, we are not a government-owned facility.  And when we see a patient who is uninsured or under insured, the medical device companies and insurance companies don’t take it easy on us or give us a break; we get less back from the government than we would another patient, but pay full price to whoever supplied the required devices.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, here’s where the “Free Lunch Principle” concept kicks in; Obamcare was made to make it cheaper on you to get insurance or healthcare, but in no way is making it cheaper for hospitals.  God forbid they reduce the litigious liability insurance that hospitals face against teams of ambulance chasers just waiting to take us down.

On the contrary, Obamacare is made to make it easier and give that lunch to some in the population, while taking a bigger bite of the sandwiches of those who work hard to pay for them out of their own pocket, with our own blood, sweat and tears.

I live in California, which already has the highest healthcare and insurance costs in the nation.  Why?  Because the Medi-cal (Medicaid) system here has become so overrun that those of us who actually work, pay taxes and act like responsible adults and take care of ourselves have to pay for those that don’t; and since this state takes it upon itself to welcome non-producers with open arms and give them welfare and medi-cal immediately, and ask nothing of them in return, it is only getting worse.

So who’s paying for the Obamacare lunch?  If you’re reading this, probably you.  If you are one of the declining number of Americans who actually work or do anything beneficial for society and earn money and pay taxes, you are paying for that lunch.  Even before Obamacare starts, we are starting to see these taxes come on board.

The manufacturers aren’t eating that cost; the hospitals aren’t eating that cost; the insurance companies definitely aren’t eating it.  But since the people getting Obamacare aren’t paying to begin with (or are paying well below its actual cost) guess who gets the tab after they’ve finished their meals and left the restaurant?  Us.

The hardworking American taxpayer who is constantly hearing that they “aren’t paying their fair share.”  As the unemployment, welfare and food stamp numbers skyrocket with people who aren’t paying ANY share, we are being called the bad guy and accused of trying to keep the money that we worked for while our tax burden and costs grow heavier and heavier.  And don’t expect a thank you.

If I go too much further this will probably devolve into at least a baker’s dozen other tangents, so I’ll leave it there.  I hope you enjoyed this Robert Patrick Lewis ECO 101 presentation; I hope you learned something, I hope you’re a little more informed, and I hope you understand that this will not end well…..as long as you’re the person paying for lunch.

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