Monday, December 9, 2013

Obamacare: A Slow-Motion Calamity

Disaster is easier to deal with when it’s happens all at once. With an unfolding calamities you never know when the next hit is coming so you can never get your bearings.

Witness the slow-motion calamity called Obamacare.

Promoted as an effort to offer everyone quality healthcare at affordable prices, Obamacare was supposed to allow you to keep your plan if you like your plan and to keep your doctor if you like your doctor.

We had the president’s word on it. LOL

Remember the Obama promise: the new plans being offered on the Obamacare exchanges were going to be so good that you would not even miss the old plan that HHS just forced your insurance company to cancel. The president told you that your old plan was substandard, but that your new replacement plan would be great.

By now, the reality is starting to break through the clouds. The truth is that on the government-run insurance exchanges, you have an extremely limited choice of doctors and a much higher deductible. Better yet, if you get really, really sick, the plans will not allow you to go to the nation’s best hospitals.

None dare call it rationing, but everyone should call it rationing.

It should not come as a surprise that the government, given full power to produce an insurance exchange to its liking has found a way to provide everyone with overpriced, substandard care. It’s like Medicaid uber alles.

Today, the Financial Times reports that your Obamacare exchange policy not allow you to go to the nation’s best hospitals:

Amid a drive by insurers to limit costs, the majority of insurance plans being sold on the new healthcare exchanges in New York, Texas, and California, for example, will not offer patients’ access to Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan or MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, two top cancer centres, or Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, one of the top research and teaching hospitals in the country.

Apparently, neither consumers nor voters nor government bureaucrats recognized how complicated the insurance market is:

Frustrated consumers could then begin to realise what is not always evident when buying a product as complicated as healthcare insurance: that their new plans do not cover many facilities or doctors “in network”.

True enough, costs are being controlled, but by rationing health care. What else would you call preventing people from receiving the best care:

… insurance companies have had to come up with new ways to cut the cost of their products. In this new era, limiting the availability of certain facilities that are seen as too expensive – in part because they may attract the sickest patients or offer the most cutting edge medical care – is seen as the best way to control costs.

Today, the Wall StreetJournal also reports that under the new policies offered on the Obamacare exchanges, deductibles have increased markedly:

As enrollment picks up on the website, many people with modest incomes are encountering a troubling element of the federal health law: deductibles so steep they may not be able to afford the portion of medical expenses that insurance doesn't cover.

The average individual deductible for what is called a bronze plan on the exchange—the lowest-priced coverage—is $5,081 a year, according to a new report on insurance offerings in 34 of the 36 states that rely on the federally run online marketplace.

That is 42% higher than the average deductible of $3,589 for an individually purchased plan in 2013 before much of the federal law took effect, according to HealthPocket Inc., a company that compares health-insurance plans for consumers. A deductible is the annual amount people must spend on health care before their insurer starts making payments.

If a woman has a bronze policy and she goes into a hospital to have a baby, she will pay most of the cost:

For example, the patient's typical share of the cost of having a baby through normal delivery—$6,150, according to one insurer's estimate—would be almost entirely an out-of-pocket expense for a person holding a bronze policy with the average $5,081 deductible.

Perhaps she will feel some consolation in knowing that her policy pays for birth control and abortion.

To reduce the deductible an individual will have to pay a much higher premium.

Unfortunately, the high deductibles will discourage people from seeking many forms of treatment. This is somewhat surprising, since Obamacare promised that with everyone having insurance people would be more likely to seek out early treatment, before their problem became so bad that they would need extremely expensive treatment.

You know the kind of treatment I’m talking about. It’s the kind that you can only get at America’s premier medical facilities, the ones that refuse to accept patients who have Obamacare insurance plans. LOL

The Journal reports on the high deductibles:

They can pay significantly higher premiums for the exchange's silver, gold and platinum policies, which have lower deductibles, or gamble they won't need much health care and choose a cheaper bronze plan. Moreover, the cost-sharing subsidies for deductibles don't apply to the bronze policies.

That means some sick or injured people may avoid treatment so they don't rack up high bills their insurance won't cover, according to consumer activists, insurance brokers and public-policy analysts—subverting one of the health law's goals, which is to ensure more people receive needed health care. Hospitals, meantime, are bracing for a rise in unpaid bills from bronze-plan policyholders, said industry officials and public-policy analysts.

In the interest of fairness, the Journal notes that the high deductible policies also cap out-of-pocket expenses. This is an improvement over older policies. This changes nothing about you limited access to the best physicians and the best hospitals:

Total out-of-pocket expenses under bronze plans are capped at an annual $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for families of four; some older policies left consumers liable for significantly more. These totals include all deductibles, copayments and coinsurance charges for covered medical services from in-network health-care providers.

This would be more of a consolation if the policies were paying for you to receive the best care.

In true blue California, for example, the great majority of physicians have refused to be part of the networks on the Obamacare policies. If you want to keep your doctor, you will not be able to do so since your doctor has probably opted out of the exchange.

The Washington Examiner has the story:

An estimated seven out of every 10 physicians in deep-blue California are rebelling against the state's Obamacare health insurance exchange and won't participate, the head of the state's largest medical association said.

“It doesn't surprise me that there's a high rate of nonparticipation,” said Dr. Richard Thorp, president of the California Medical Association.

That’s just today’s bad news from the Obamacare front. Stay tuned for more.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I'd say we're moving at a pretty good clip now.

Obama can't lose. If his signature legislation fails, we're so far gone that single-payer healthcare system will be the only possible solution in the small minds of all these Washington megalomaniacs. And Colin Powell now thinks single payer is a good idea, too. I'm sold.

Why is it that Obama can't negotiate with anyone in the domestic opposition but he can shake Raul Castro's hand? Has any mainstream journalist thought about this momentous gesture means and the implications for the U.S. position human rights?

Oh, that's right... Cuba has single-payer, too.


Stuart Schneiderman said...

Let's not forget, BHO couldn't be bothered to attend the funeral of Margaret Thatcher, either.