Bill Murchison

The late, great Milton Friedman used to say, there's no such thing as a free lunch. The ancient Romans had another pointed saying: "Quod erat demonstrandum," meaning, roughly, remember now what I told you, doofus?

To put it another way, is there room for surprise in the report that high deductibles may contribute to making Obamacare something less than the divine blessing its authors meant it to be? For all the comforting promises out of D.C., relayed to the general public with profound sweetness, there's no such thing as a free lunch. Someone always pays. To believe otherwise is a) to believe money grows on trees, or b) not to care, so long as someone else picks up the check.

Obamacare's underlying philosophy is b ). In other words, a Democratic Congress, at the instigation of the White House, planned all along that good old Peter would pay Paul in the name of good old income redistribution.

Quod erat demonstrandum. According to a comparative study by HealthPocket Inc., there's a reason bottom-of-the-line "bronze" plans sold under Obamacare are bottom-of-the-line. You pay less up front in purchasing one of these plans because the real costs come later. In all but two of the 36 states participating in the federally run marketplace, the average individual deductible is $5,0812 a year. This compares with an average of $3,589 in 2013. The "typical" cost of a baby born through normal delivery -- $6,150 -- "would be almost entirely an out-of-pocket expense for a person holding a bronze policy" with deductible at that level, explains the Wall Street Journal.

You might, at certain income levels, receive federal help for premiums or deductibles. That still leaves hundreds of thousands of us, as the Journal notes, faced with the Hobson's choice of buying a higher-cost policy -- "silver" or "gold" or "platinum" -- or scraping by with less medical care to avoid unreimbursed services.

It is not that Congress and the White House invented deductibles -- ceilings underneath which the client pays before reaching the level at which the insurance company payments kick in. The pretense here was all along that Obamacare would level access to health care, the federal government, with its superior knowledge, figuring out the level of necessary care. The White House's steady, on-message assurances that we could keep our existing doctors and hospital plans were designed as white noise to drown out concerns about the true cost.

A society bred up since the 1960s to understand government "benefits" as magically paid for by magical "others" was supposed to look the other way as D.C. passed the hat to the middle class types that Democrats always portray as oppressed.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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