07.07.2014 1

What would happen if we treated food like Obamacare?

-By Brad Tidwell

what-happen-treat-food-like-obamacare In recent debates about Obamacare, there’s been a theme pushed by many opposing the Hobby Lobby decision to not pay for certain kinds of birth control — #NotMyBossBusiness. The idea is businesses should not be able to make health care decisions for their employees.

The problem is that this is already happening — and not just with health care. Right now, all your health care decisions are outside your control — because of Obamacare, and the regulations put on Healthcare and Insurance companies.

So, as a mental exercise, to see how unnaturally our policies treat health care, imagine if the government declared food a “human right” like they have with health care. What would happen if we treated food like we do health care?

Here’s the old, broken system:

  • We’d have “Food Maintenance Organizations” subsidized by our employers, telling us we could only eat and buy groceries at certain places, sometimes outside our state.
  • If you wanted a burger at the local food truck, you might have to pay an “out of network” fee.
  • All food insurance programs would be mandated to cover certain foods, even if you were allergic to them.
  • If you didn’t eat as often, that money would go to subsidize those who ate more often.
  • The cost of food would explode, because trial lawyers would sue food companies every time someone got sick.
  • Grocery stores and restaurants no longer have to compete on price, and you can only really buy food within your network.
  • They can now charge anything they want because you only see your co-pay on your receipt.
  • Countless man-hours would be spent debating between the restaurants and FMO’s on food billing records and debating the real cost of the food.
  • If you had to pay for that food yourself, you’d be really stuck, as you wouldn’t even have an FMO to negotiate those prices for you.

Now, let’s look at the “improvements” under Obamacare-style regulations:

  • The government comes in with a solution for those without FMOs- there are now “food exchanges”, where you have to enroll to buy food through a bureaucratic process that doesn’t always work and still leaves many without food.
  • Now, if you don’t want to join an Obamacare-run food exchange, you’re suddenly “taxed” to pay for food you’re not going to buy.
  • Your employer would have to pay directly for foods they were religiously opposed to- Jewish temples and Islamic mosques would be paying for pork, and PETA would be forced to pay directly for meat.
  • The price of the plans go up, and the options for food benefits goes down.
  • What kind of improvement is that? Rather than fixing the core problems of over-regulated food and lack of competition, the new food program not only creates more restrictions, but makes it harder for you to eat.

Of course, food and health care are different, not only in price but in necessity. And yet the point remains. Who in their right mind would want to buy food in a country like that? And why are we treating health care in such an unnatural way, rather than fixing the core issues?

Rather than adding more government and regulation to the mix, an alternative health care reform should put people back in control of their own health care decisions. Things like choosing our own doctors, increasing competition, reducing red tape and providing more options- this is the real way forward.

Brad Tidwell is the web editor for Americans for Limited Government.

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