Even Obama “Rations” His Own Health Care

06/27/2011 - 11:42am

Earlier this month, the Subcommittee on Health of the House Energy & Commerce Committee held two hearings to review the regulatory burden of Obamacare and its impact on businesses and jobs.

Dr. Michael Burgess (R-TX) opened up the second of the two hearings with an interesting story about how President Obama, during his campaign for the presidency, declined a presription once cost became an issue:

On the issue of high deductible health plans, I noticed in one of the publications that comes out here on the hill every morning, yesterday's Politico Pro talked about how the number of people signing up for high deductible health plans, HSAs if you will, had increased. And I don't remember whether the number was 14% or 18%. But it was a significant increase. Now many of us are concerned that as the rollout of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act becomes established, these programs (high deductible health plans) are extremely popular. In fact, President Obama, himself when Republicans were down at the White House a few weeks ago, told us a little vignette about some dermatologic preparation he had been prescribed during the campaign, and it worked a little bit but not all that great. So he got it refilled. He had a little prescription card. It cost him five bucks for every prescription, but when he was out on the road he ran out, went to the pharmacist, [and] explained his difficulty. The pharmacist called the doctor. They got everything straightened out as to what the prescription [was that] he needed. The pharmacist bagged it up and handed it to him and said that would be $400 dollars.

And the President said, “You know, this rash is not that bad.” And at that point, the President became an informed consumer and responded to a very clear market signal that the rash wasn’t that bad and $400 dollars was not a necessary expenditure. That’s why so many of us really like the concept of people being able to control their own money for health care expenditures. Mitch Daniels in Indiana allowed that something magic happens when people spend their own money for health care even if it wasn't their own money in the first place. That is, his state employees where he funded a high deductible health plan and funded the health savings account part of that, people tended to be very cost conscience consumers. And as a consequence, he held down costs for his state employees by 11% over two years. At the same time regular PPO, Medicare, Medicaid were increasing at 9% to double digits every year.[1]

1 PPACA'S Effects on Maintaining Health Coverage and Jobs: A Review of the Health Care Law's Regulatory Burden: Hearing before the H. Energy & Commerce Comm. Subcomm. on Health, 112th Cong. (June 15, 2011) (statement of Rep. Michael Burgess, M.D., Vice Chair, H. Energy & Commerce Comm. Subcomm. on Health) (available at http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearings/hearingdetail.aspx?NewsID=8695).