Welcome to ‘new, improved’ healthcare
In the leadup to last November’s mid-term elections, few Democrat candidates could be convinced to campaign on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Many ran away from the healthcare their party imposed on American voters. Here’s an example of why.
My nephew had chest pains last week, so he and his wife drove to the Emergency Room and were referred to a cardiologist the next day. This was their first experience with the coverage they had recently purchased on the Obamacare exchange and it seemed to be working.
But the cardiologist they were referred to refused to accept the new insurance. Annoyed, they decided to ask the referring ER physician for a different name. He refused.
Ok, time to consult with the Primary Care Physician (PCP) assigned by his new insurance. She should sort this all out and get him the specialized care he needed. Oh, and speaking of specialized care, the PCP he was assigned to (actually auto-assigned, as this was all computerized now) was a specialist in — wait for it — Obstetrics and Gynecology.
We all had a good laugh at my nephew’s expense, suggesting ways he could prepare for his Ob/Gyn visit. You can imagine the suggestions. Well they tried to call for an appointment anyway, or at least a referral. But the phone number listed in the government information sheet didn’t work.
This is the same government-designed healthcare system that experienced massive computer problems when it first opened for business, so we’re asked to be patient. Patience is not easy for someone with chest pains.
When Obamacare became law five years ago we were promised a number of things about its timing, overall effectiveness and cost. They turned out to be either overstated or downright dishonest. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius ultimately took the fall for the shoddy rollout and resigned in disgrace.
More time and a new Secretary of HHS would correct these issues, we were told. But problems associated with government control of so large an industry as healthcare keep surfacing and the way the administration addresses them is to delay implementation one piece at a time and to exempt favored groups on an ad hoc basis. Six Democrat Senators just this week asked for a delay in implementing a new definition of “small business” that would push more employers into the small group market.
Along with the law’s piecemeal implementation we’re learning some of its unintended consequences: rural clinics going out of business at an accelerated rate, private practitioners refusing to take on new Medicaid beneficiaries, and older physicians advancing their retirement rather than accept onerous record-keeping burdens and limitations on the care they give.
Remember, this poorly designed healthcare was voted into law by Congressional Democrats. Not a single Republican could be persuaded (or bribed) to sign onto it. Five years have now elapsed and an NPR poll from March 15 of this year found 51 percent of Americans oppose Obamacare. As tax season cranks up and taxpayers learn they must sign a statement affirming they have health insurance or pay a penalty, that percentage will likely grow.
It’s easy to criticize this many-flawed program, but the real lesson is government isn’t the best way to solve all our problems. If a private company committed so many errors it would go out of business in a month. The government merely announces a new fix to put on the old fix. And my nephew is left to flounder in a morass of bureaucratic confusion. Welcome to our new, improved healthcare insurance system.