Obamacare: You Can Keep Your Doctor

July 24, 2012

On June 15, 2009, President Obama made an address to the annual meeting of the American Medical Association. For patients, he made a sweeping pledge that: “No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period……”

So what happens if you like your doctor(s) and felt relieved when the President indicated that you could keep your doctors?  What Obama didn’t tell you is that your doctor may not be there for you to keep, or your doctor may decide that he no longer wants you as a patient.

From Jane Keill’s personal experience, here is what’s happened to her and to her physicians since Obamacare was passed:

  • Two specialty physicians (OB/GYN and Gastroenterology) moved to Wisconsin where their malpractice insurance is 1/10th of Illinois’ costs. They were great doctors – experienced, up-to-date, personable and gone.
  • One doctor in a specialty group has retired; another one in that group will retire in the next five years.
  • Two doctors are now asking for a payment from her personally to be available for her care. One asks $250 annually; the other asks $185 if and when a surgical/radiological procedure is performed. This is now called ‘Concierge Medicine’ and more and more doctors are turning to it.
  • One specialty doctor’s group is no longer accepting NEW Medicare patients. They will stay with their established patients, but will not take on any new ones.
  • Two specialty doctors no longer accept Medicare assignment.  Jane has to pay them the full amount upfront and then wait for Medicare to reimburse her directly with a much, much smaller payment. More money out of her pocket.

Jane has been fortunate to have been able to find new doctors to replace the ones she lost. So far, she has been able to afford to pay for Concierge medicine and the Medicare unassigned payments.  What comes in the future may not be so affordable.

Nancy Thorner has fared better than Jane Keill. Besides having Medicare coverage, she also has as her secondary insurer FEP (Federal Employee Program) Blue Cross-Blue Shield. Having had no medical condition to require major surgery since 1990, Nancy has had no need to test her insurance coverage.

Regarding Nancy Thorner’s gynecologist who is a Democrat and an ardent Obama supporter, she must always pay up front after her appointments. There is no way, even as a Democrat, that her gynecologist is going to wait until Medicare payment are forthcoming and at an reimbursement level that is considerably below the payments he wants to receive for his services. What a dichotomy on his part!

Nancy has noticed in recent years that her family physician (an internist) no longer calls for tests to be done at the time of her annual “Wellness” check-up that were routine in the past. If she relates having a condition that requires further study (such as chest pain) or if her blood work indicates a problem, then further tests are done as necessary.

Others may not be so lucky. We suggest that you check with your various physicians to see if they are taking any of the above actions.

Medicaid patients are even worse off in the care they receive. The government only reimburses doctors at roughly 60 cents on the dollar for a physician charge.  This is presently resulting in many doctors refusing access to Medicaid paitents or doctors are capping the number they’re willing to see.  It is more than likely that the broken Medicaid system is but a window into what all Americans (and doctors) will be privy to under Obamacare.

Under Obamacare, doctors will eventually become employees of the Federal government and may be allowed to form a union as they have in England. That means they will be able to strike as they do in England and will have pensions and health benefits and other types of perks negotiated by their union bosses.

Can you imagine your physician(s) being members of SEIU? We all know how well that has worked out, don’t we?

If enough American doctors retire or refuse to treat certain types of patients, then we may see more and more foreign-born and foreign-trained physicians in our hospitals and clinics and practices. In England, again, almost 40% of their doctors are foreign-born and foreign-trained.

As indicated in our commentary on IPAB and the Mandate Task Force, there will be more and more rationing and limitations on the amount and type of medical care you will be able to receive – especially as you grow older and sicker. Doctors will be told more and more by the IPAB and the Task Force how they must practice, what tests they will be able to perform and how much they will get paid for the care they give their patients. Waiting times for appointments will go up and shorter visits will occur as doctors try to see as many patients as possible, but get paid less and less for that attention.

The Obamacare bill did not include malpractice insurance reform because the Tort Reform attorneys did not want this lucrative source of income limited. As noted in an op-ed piece on June 13, 2012 by contributor Grace-Marie Turner:

“Today lawyers shoot for the sky, and doctors over-prescribe to avoid lawsuits. The result is billions of dollars’ worth of unnecessary medical treatments. Sensible tort reform would allow doctors to practice sound medicine and still protect patients from genuine malpractice. State experiments already are working in as and elsewhere to guide other states.”

One of the reasons medical costs have risen so sharply over the years is that doctors do multiple medical tests to ensure they cover all the possibilities, so they won’t be sued for malpractice or negligence.

Under Obamacare doctors will be limited in the numbers and types of tests and procedures they can order because of rationing and cost controls. The doctors are not, however, protected from malpractice law suits under Obamacare, so even though they can’t perform the necessary tests, they will still be vulnerable to being sued for not performing those very tests! Sound crazy? Well it is!

Obama has proudly proclaimed that 30,000,000 uninsured Americans will now have health care, even though many of those people are young and healthy and have no desire to carry health insurance.

As further stated in this post by Jason Bohmann on June 29, 2912:

“You can’t insure 30,000,000 more Americans and reduce costs to the government. The math just doesn’t work.  The cost savings we are told are going to come in the form of reduced payments to providers and hospitals and they come in the out-years, not up front.”

Also keep in mind that Obama has authorized the hiring of 2,700 new IRS agents to track the mandate that you must buy health insurance or pay a tax. Along with upgrading its computer systems, the cost to taxpayers through 2013 is $881 million.

An obvious omission: Obama hasn’t ordered the hiring of new physicians and other medical personnel to cover those additional 30,000,000 uninsured who will now be forced to be covered – most likely under Medicaid. Who’s going to take care of those 30,000,000 people – IRS agents?

Another part of Obamacare is how college loans have been shifted from the private sector to the Federal government. As long as the Federal government controls college funds, they control who gets the money and how it is used. That means that Federal bureaucrats will now control who gets money to go to medical school and which schools they can attend.

The Federal government can likewise tell med students what specialties they can go into whether they are interested in that field or not. It can also dictate where the young newly-graduated doctor can serve, sending them to particularly sparse and remote areas where there is little medical care available.

The next time you visit your physician(s), it would be wise to ask how they are going to take care of you under Obamacare.

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This is the third in the Nancy Thorner – Jane Keill series on Obamacare. Others in the series are:

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