Obamacare Revisited

About 2 years ago I wrote an article on Obamacare basically praising Obama for even taking on the issue and arguing that Obamacare is a necessary law. My basic argument was that it did some minimal work to check the price of healthcare premiums while providing healthcare for those who were priced out of the system.

I wish I had gone on to expound on the plan and the concerns I had about why it didn’t go far enough with regard to the price of drugs. I have always felt that Obamacare didn’t go far enough or even really deal with the cost of healthcare. However, I also really admired Obama for attempting (and succeeding at) healthcare reform at all. It is still a complex issue that people don’t really understand. The ridiculous increase in the price of a drug called Daraprim brings to light the biggest hole in Obamacare, and no… it is not that the law should be repealed or defunded, but rather that it does not go far enough to curb the inelastic nature of healthcare.

In short, Daraprim is a drug that fights a disease called toxoplasmosis. This particular disease can be fatal for people with weak immune systems. A company called Turing pharmaceuticals bought the drug and raised the price from $13.50 a tablet to $750 a tablet.

On its face this is an insane price increase, but it illuminates a very important aspect of healthcare that people often miss. If you are a person who happens to have a weak immune system and you are suffering from toxoplasmosis and could die, how much would you pay for Daraprim? Would $750 be too much? Would $1000 be too much? $2000? How much would you pay for a drug that will save your life? It seems like an extreme example but now we can see that it is reality. This is the kind of vicious dilemma that we are choosing for ourselves by continuing to support free market solutions to the provision of healthcare.

Obamacare was a compromise between pharmaceutical lobbies and morality in order to impose a minimum check on healthcare costs in order that everyone can at least have access to it. We must now finish the job President Obama started by supporting government imposition of price controls so that cases like Daraprim will never happen again and people won’t have to choose between bankruptcy and death.