Monday, October 8, 2012

5 dangerous ways in which ObamaCare will harm you and your family

Pitfall #1: Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

ObamaCare essentially "robs Peter to pay Paul." How? Well, if you're a senior, you'll be fleeced by the $716 billion in Medicare cuts designed to substantially fund the ObamaCare plan over the next decade.

The president’s healthcare law does reduce future spending on Medicare, but Obama claims that those savings are obtained by reducing fraud levels and reducing federal payments to insurance companies, hospitals and other providers, and do not affect benefits for people in the Medicare program.

When President Obama claims that these actions do not affect benefits – he MAY be telling the truth; but only if we can assume or have confidence that doctors will continue to participate in Medicare as a healthcare provider.

While attending a Healthcare Finance Conference last month I learned more about the real problem here. We now know that doctors and even some local medical clinics who accept Medicare either have already stopped participating in Medicare; or they are seriously considering doing so. I have held conversations over the last year with C-Suite and Executive level healthcare leaders; who are saying they may very well be forced to stop participating in Medicare in order to keep their doors open. Their primary goal is to provide quality and accessible care to their local community. They cannot achieve that goal or even keep their doors open if they go bankrupt. Please note that existing Medicare rules LIMIT the additional costs either for services that are not covered by Medicare or service fee amounts left over after Medicare pays the doctor. These limits do not allow doctors and hospitals to pass such costs along to a senior who is dependent on Medicare. Prior to Obamacare passage – doctors and providers already lose money on Medicare covered services; but try to make up those losses through patient services they bill through private insurance companies such as United Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield, etc. Now however, as more and more patients are moved into the insurance exchanges – this will drive down the number of dollars that doctors and hospitals take in through private insurance companies as the ‘New Obamacare Rules’ are implemented.

Armies of accountants and patient finance professionals have combed through the 2,700 pages of confusing rules in Obamacare; crunched the numbers and now are more confident that they may have to simply opt-out of Medicare.

This leads to one simple conclusion. When Obama says that services for seniors will not be affected under his plan; he is either simply wrong because he is misinformed. Or, he knew this all along and moved forward with the plan anyway. In either case – it is a colossal mistake - that will affect seniors!

Pitfall #2: Insurance Companies Free to Pass on Increased Costs

Under the new ObamaCare mandates, insurance companies will have free rein to pass on their increased costs to you in the form of:

    Higher premiums
    Higher co-pays
    Higher deductibles

There are no specific price controls to keep the insurance industry in check. Even AARP, the powerful lobby representing American seniors, has already increased the health insurance premiums taken from its employee’s paychecks from 8% to 13% depending on which employee plan they have signed up for.

Healthcare professionals who have combed through the 2,7000 pages of  the legislation have said that this increased costs to employees and their families will only escalate as the law is further implemented from 2013 to 2015.

Pitfall #3: Widespread Doctor Shortage Expected

While many Americans are unhappy with ObamaCare, doctors have been particularly angry. Why? Because the earning potential of doctors is expected to dwindle due to lowered payment rates for Medicare, among other things. (See Pitfall #1 above). Up to 40% of physicians could retire or seek a non-clinical or even a non-medical job.

And with 30 million more Americans on healthcare insurance plans, not only could there be a medical "brain drain," but also long drives and long waits to see a doctor. This is precisely what happened in Canada the UK with socialized medicine. Sure, we can argue that Obamacare is not socialized medicine – that fine. What I am saying here is that the outcomes of Obamacare will have the same effect in access to patient care that we have already seen in Canada and the UK. EXAMPLE, I and my mother-in-law have both been referred for a MRI in the last 24 months. I each case; our primary doctor made the referral appointment and we had the MRI completed within 48 hours. In Canada, if your primary doctor refers a patient for an MRI – the wait time is between 3 and 6 months. Access to care is ‘prioritized’ by bureaucrats because their system has forced them to. Delayed services and rationed care is a natural outcome or consequence of such mandated systems; the same bureaucracies and controls as have been introduced under Obamacare.

By the Way – this is one of the primary examples of how Healthcare Reform in Massachusetts under Romney is completely different than Obamacare. There is no governing board of bureaucrats working for the state that controls systems, costs and access. It is controlled by the Private Market comprised of hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, equipment companies, pharmaceuticals, etc. – using innovation, competition and free enterprise creativity to improve care and drive down costs.

Pitfall #4: Delayed Implementation and Hundreds of Unwritten Rules

Shockingly, many of the rules and regulations needed to make the new Obama healthcare system function correctly haven't even been written yet. And for all the details outlined above - costs will inevitably balloon higher than expected; benefits for consumers are likely to degrade significantly, particularly for seniors, the biggest users of healthcare services.

Pitfall #5: Unelected Government Officials Will Have Total Control to Make Decisions about Your Healthcare

"Healthcare commissars" who don't have to worry about being elected by the American people will have undemocratic, totalitarian powers to cut Medicare spending and make decisions on your behalf as a so-called Independent Payment Advisory Board. This is basically the same bureaucratic system that is in place in Canada and the UK (as outlined above).

Healthcare Professionals I have grown to know and respect in my professional endeavors are already scrambling to figure out how to mitigate the damage and navigate the coming storm. They are educated, experienced and wise enough to know what is coming and prepare. Unfortunately, now that we have completely politicized healthcare in our country; the future of healthcare for our citizens is in jeopardy.

From a political stand-point many of us are happy that it has become a national issue. Even conservatives wanted and still want to have a national discussion about how to reform healthcare. Most of us agree on protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, or being able to extend benefits to children in college up to an age of 26, etc., etc.

That being said – the solution that has been passed within Obamacare is no real solution. It is already demonstrably making things worse for Americans; strictly from the subject of healthcare. This does not even begin to touch on the indirect effects of Obamacare; such as how it has already diminished business expansion and the hiring of new employees by companies nationwide during a terrible recession. I personally know of many company owners who are having their accountants calculate if it is worth it to grow their companies more than a certain number of employees. Many are coming to the conclusion that it is cost prohibitive; so they will simply maintain the status quo and not hire anymore people.

More to share later.


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