Thursday, May 26, 2016

May, 2016, Part 3, The Unfolding Disaster That Is Obama Care: A Smoker Cessation Component That Ceases Nothing and Sories of Heartbreak From Across the Country

Every month for years now we have had to discuss how bad Obama Care is turning out to be under the continuing theme, “the unfolding disaster that is Obama Care.” This month is no different. As the legislation continues to march through America, driving up health care and health insurance prices as it serves as dead weight on economic growth, it cements its rightful place as the worst piece of legislation Washington has ever produced.

It never had a chance to be successful since it really never addressed the underlying root causes of our ever increasing health costs in the country:
  • Americans eat too much of the wrong kind of food, resulting in obscenely high obesity rates for the country.
  • Our food chain is infested with overdoses of high fructose corn syrup, salt, and other unhealthy additives.
  • Americans smoke too much.
  • Americans do not exercise enough.
  • The country is in serious need of health care tort reform.
  • Barriers to insurance company competition across state lines need to come down.
  • Obama Care never “followed the money” to find out who is actually profiting from the ever escalating healthcare costs in this country and how to get those factors under control.
  • Obama Care never got the immense amount of fraud and abuse in current government healthcare programs, Medicare and Medicaid, under control in order to save money to efficiently fund other government health care initiatives.
  • Obama Care never put serious research money towards curing the major diseases that drive high healthcare costs such as high frequency cancers and dementia type diseases.
You cannot resolve any problem unless you understand and address the underlying root causes. No difference here: Obama Care legislation never addressed these listed root causes and thus, has no chance of ever being successful.

But it is not just missing the root causes of our healthcare costs that makes Obama Care so horrible. It resulted in millions of Americans losing access to their favored doctors, hospitals, and insurance policies. It has caused insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays to escalate substantially. It will likely add trillions of dollars to the national debt. It has exposed millions of Americans to higher than necessary identity theft chances. It has created government bureaucracies that are wastefully spending taxpayer wealth and being exploited by criminal elements. It has stifled economic growth and job creation.

These are just a sample of the types of idiocy that we have been reviewing for the past several years in this blog relative to Obama Care., To read those past posts, just enter the phrase, “the unfolding disaster,” in the search box above.

Today we will finish up the latest disasters from Obama Care and spend some time reviewing the personal stress, trauma, and expense that Obama Care has introduced into the lives of our friends, family members, and neighbors:

1) One of the potentially good things Obama Care said it wanted to do was to financially penalize smokers in order to nudge them towards stopping their smoking habit and get healthier. It was a good idea but as always, a horrible approach to resolving the issue.

As we have discussed many times, Obama failed in his healthcare legislation because he tried to solve a public health problem with a bad insurance approach. His plan was to force smokers to pay more for Obama Care insurance policies but the law has no way of checking if Obama Care policy owners who were smokers were actually being honest. According to a recent article by Kaiser Health Services:

  • Independent surveys estimate that 17% of Idaho residents are smokers but only 3% of Idaho Obama Care policy owners say they are smokers.
  • In Kentucky, more than one in four state residents smoke but only 11% of Obama Care policy holders in the state are paying the smokers’ surcharge on their insurance premiums.
  • In Minnesota, 15% of state residents smoke but only 5% of Obama Care policy holders in the state are stating they are smokers and paying the surcharge.
  • While 17% of all Americans are smokers, only 7% of Obama Care policy holders nationwide are paying the smoker surcharge.
So we have either a major statistical fluke or massive lying by Obama Care smokers which defeats the whole purpose of Obama Care, to get smokers to stop smoking by forcing them to pay more for insurance. Rather than focusing on getting smokers to actually quit smoking with smoking cessation strategies, we end up with millions of Americans turning into liars to save some money and doing nothing to stop smoking.

As a result of this lack of common sense, non-smokers who have Obama Care policies will end up paying more for their insurance coverage going forward since the Obama Care mechanics never found a way to make smokers pay for their probable higher healthcare and medical costs down the road. Just another unfolding disaster.

2) Let’s finish this month’s review of the unfolding disasters of Obama Care of personal stories of horror that Obama Care spawned. We have done this before in other Obama Care posts based on stories of real people from the following website:

You will see many of the problems that we have discussed before: higher premium costs, higher deductible costs, more narrow doctor and hospital networks, loss of access to favorite doctors and hospitals, loss of insurance from their employees, etc. This is the reality that Obama Care has caused at the individual and family level (My emphasis added):

ED -OHIO: Even after the administration made hundreds of improvements to the troubled Obamacare website, many people are still encountering difficulty. Ed Anderson, a graphic designer from Columbus, Ohio, who was recently bumped from his wife’s insurance policy for reasons relating to the new law, discovered that his family’s monthly premiums will double even if he chooses the most inexpensive plan available to him through the new federal insurance exchange in his state.

Anderson said he and his wife currently pay a monthly premium of $460 through Blue Cross Blue Shield. But now that he can no longer stay on his wife’s plan, he will have to get his own coverage. The most inexpensive option would cost him a $428 monthly premium. And he and his wife can’t qualify for a federal subsidy because their joint income exceeds the cutoff. The new insurance policy will cost the Andersons an extra $5,000 a year in premiums alone.

“When you’re trying to keep your house, pay car insurance and put your kid through college, it’s tough,” Anderson said. Everything we do is going to be affected by this. Getting groceries, eating out. Going anywhere. It’s just crazy.”

MARCUS - SOUTH DAKOTA: The problem is that millions of Americans, like me, simply cannot afford insurance. The estimates for mid-level plans by the Kaiser Family Foundation (I’d check directly on, but the site has crashed every day so far since Oct. 1), show that premiums for my family of five will cost almost $300 a month after subsidies. When it comes to my family’s budget, you might as well be asking me for $3,000,000 a month. There is no way that my family can afford to throw away that much money every month for a plan that still has a high deductible.

[. . .] My point is that we can throw all the insurance money we want at health care, but it won’t solve the problem of getting Americans (especially low-income Americans) the medical care we need. Until the cost of health care is dealt with, the individual mandate will just be another financial burden weakening an already-fragile working class.

JANETTE - CALIFORNIA: The chiropractor who expects her premiums to rise, the 60s-something company manager who has to pay for maternity coverage, the Simi Valley contractor and many others who make at least $46,000 a year -- they all pound away at the same rhythm.

They say the middle class is once again getting tattooed, this time by President Barack Obama's health care reform. "However you look at it, the son of a gun lied to us," said Janette Ramsey, a Bakersfield business owner with a weekend home in Ventura. She's losing her current coverage and expects to pay $50 more a month for a policy with nearly double the deductible.

"I think it's an abomination," she said. "... I'm going to pay more and get 100 percent less."

ERIN - MASSACHUSETTS: I lost coverage with doctors in my area. It's not right and it's not fair. The current federal government and their policies are detrimental to the health of my business and my family.

STEVE - WASHINGTON: My out of pocket co-pays have almost tripled... :{ !!!

LYNN - ILLINOIS: Thanks to OBAMACARE many of us will lose our employee health insurance due to the cost rose 60% in 2 years. Starting 2015 we will be left to find our own coverage.

DR. DANIEL CRAVIOTTO - CALIFORNIA: Daniel is a physician who wrote an op-ed in WSJ expressing his frustration with ObamaCare: 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services dictates that we must use an electronic health record (EHR) or be penalized with lower reimbursements in the future. There are "meaningful use" criteria whereby the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services tells us as physicians what we need to include in the electronic health record or we will not be subsidized the cost of converting to the electronic system and we will be penalized by lower reimbursements.

Across the country, doctors waste precious time filling in unnecessary electronic-record fields just to satisfy a regulatory measure. I personally spend two hours a day dictating and documenting electronic health records just so I can be paid and not face a government audit. Is that the best use of time for a highly trained surgical specialist?

[. . .] 

Meanwhile, our Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements have significantly declined, let alone kept up with inflation. In orthopedic surgery, for example, Medicare reimbursement for a total knee replacement decreased by about 68% between 1992 and 2010, based on the value of 1992 dollars. How can this be? Don't doctors have control over what they charge for their services? For the most part, no. Our medical documentation is pored over and insurers and government then determine the appropriate level of reimbursement.

I don't know about other physicians but I am tired—tired of the mandates, tired of outside interference, tired of anything that unnecessarily interferes with the way I practice medicine. No other profession would put up with this kind of scrutiny and coercion from outside forces. The legal profession would not. The labor unions would not. We as physicians continue to plod along and take care of our patients while those on the outside continue to intrude and interfere with the practice of medicine.

That will do it for this month’s Obama Care disasters. A smoker penalty that penalizes no one and stories of hardship and heartbreak across the country because of what Obama Care has done to millions of Americans. Still no doubt in my mind that this is the worst piece of legislation ever passed by Washington. More disasters sure to come by next month.

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