When I was in high school, our sports teams traveled throughout southern Arizona to games and meets. This travel often necessitated stopping at some fast food establishment for some after-competition sustenance, usually at the local McDonalds since the Golden Arches were the end-all and be-all of the fast food culinary arts in the mid-70’s. I distinctly remember the coach standing outside the bus as we filed off, handing each one of us two crisp (or maybe not so crisp) $1 bills. With this bounty in hand, I found out quickly that my two dollars would typically buy two cheeseburgers, a small side of fries, and a chocolate shake. Every sports trip I took would end up with the same order; a bounteous feast to be sure.
What strikes me now, after the passage of so many years and so much nasty McDonald’s burger consumption, is that neither I nor my teammates ever once presented ourselves to the counter and expected food to flow from the back of the restaurant into our ravenous mouths without the exchange of currency of some sort. If we wanted another tasty Mcshake, or had a desire to top off the meal with a scrumptious apple pie, then we would be expected to produce even more of those little green bills with pictures of prominent Americans on them. Apparently there was a mechanism in place to compensate the makers of the feast for their hard work and expense. I suspect that otherwise this benevolent burger purveyor would soon have ceased to do business. As we all know, that certainly didn’t happen. Ronald McDonald (or at least his descendants) is still alive and well.
I’m reminded of this episode when I see recent news about what is lovingly known in some circles as Obamacare. It would appear that insurance premiums are increasing yet again, while the Affordable Care Act was supposed to rein this in. There are myriad reasons why, I suppose. Might insurance companies be jacking rates in anticipation of future constraints to this sort of practice?
Might there be an increase in healthcare costs independent of the ACA?
However, when a piece of legislation specifically prohibits insurance companies from actuarially accounting for pre-existing conditions, when the bill provides for the automatic inclusion of all children up to the age of 26, when the law states that no lifetime caps for benefits are to be instituted, then something has to give. Did anyone expect that a business would be able to absorb such a mandate? These increases were a foregone conclusion when the bill was passed, despite assurances to the contrary. Someone will have to pay for this largess. Will the insurance companies decide to pick up the slack?
It ain’t gonna happen. It was never gonna happen. As I found out years ago at the counter of Mickey D’s, there’s indeed no such thing as a free lunch.