Most Americans have recently witnessed or even experienced the myriad of problems plaguing the Obamacare site, Healthcare.gov. However, in reality, the faulty website is just a teeny tiny little glimpse at what lies ahead in the upcoming months. In fact, while some people may be blissful that they “finally got healthcare” through the Obamacare exchanges, they are soon going to discover that this does NOT necessarily mean they are actually going to receive the medical care they need when they need it, if at all.
Many hospitals and doctors argue they simply can’t afford to participate in Obamacare exchanges, and are simply saying “no” to the Affordable Care Act altogether. According to Watchdog.org, “Americans who sign up for insurance on the state exchanges may not have access to the nation’s top hospitals.”
The Examiner reports that many Americans may not even have access to their doctors anymore:
In parts of California… low reimbursement rates have resulted in a doctor rebellion, as nearly seven out of 10 doctors refuse to participate in the exchanges. San Diego broker Neil Crosby told the Examiner that: “65 to 70 percent of the providers have declined the reimbursement schedules the carriers are offering. They will not be providers in the exchange marketplace. Similarly, agent David Fear in Sacramento said, “Roughly a third of the doctors are going to be accepted in the networks.
Outside of California, the doctor shortages and issues are also becoming very similar. In Las Vegas, Larry Harrison, an agent recently said, “The ‘lion’s share’ of doctors there are staying away from the exchanges.”
New Jersey is also predicting a severe doctor shortage, as NJ.com explains:
Obamacare comes with an insurance card, but not necessarily an easy path to a doctor. Foundations and governments are pouring “grants” into the state’s healthcare system to try to alleviate the increasingly severe shortage of doctors, which is expected to accelerate. The funds are supposed to make the system more “efficient” by “re-structuring” it. However, analysts say patients in New Jersey can also look forward to much longer wait times — assuming they can get care at all.
In Virginia, broker Carol Taylor of Roanoke, Va., also estimates that “participating doctor networks (in Virginia) are shrinking by 70 percent in the exchange plans.” And from the Examiner, “Meanwhile, nationally known health insurance providers like United Healthcare, Aetna, Cigna and Coventry are staying out of the Obamacare exchange marketplaces…Other well-known companies such as Blue Cross Blue Shield are in, but are sharply narrowing their networks to exclude many doctors, as well as elite hospitals…As a result, well-known hospitals like Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai, New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering and the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital will be out of reach for many exchange patients.”
Obamacare may certainly seem like the utopian dream come true for the average bleeding heart Liberal. However, in reality, it actually exacerbates one of the biggest problems with our pre-Obamacare healthcare system– doctor shortages. The Washington Policy Center reports:
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) anticipates a shortage of 150,000 doctors in the next 15 years. Other sources predict a shortage of 200,000 doctors by 2025. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a need for 145,000 new doctors by 2018. Washington State will potentially face a shortage of 3,000 to 4,000 doctors and 24,000 registered nurses over the next 10 to 15 years.
For years the government has also controlled the number of medical schools, the number of graduates from these schools and their licensure. This has created a further distortion in the supply of health care. Government central planners are now even attempting to legislate not only the total number of doctors, but also the number of primary care physicians and the number of specialists in the country. This is as futile and absurd as the government telling people how many laptop versus desktop computers we need. No amount of information or analysis will enable central planners to know how many doctors, and of what type, the country needs.
Only through balanced market forces, ones that allow patients to control their own health care dollars, can the demand be correctly determined. The necessary and sufficient number of doctors each community needs can only be known through millions of routine, voluntary actions made in the free market.
So, the Washington Policy Center has offered solutions to “curb” the severe doctor shortages, including:
- Allow the health care market, not central planners, to determine the number of doctors needed.
- Remove employers and government (except for safety-net programs for the most needy) from health care financing and allow patients to control their own health care dollars:
- Change the tax code
- Encourage the use of high-deductible health insurance
- Encourage the use of health savings accounts
- Allow the interstate purchase of health insurance to increase competition
- Means test Medicare
- Allow seniors to opt out of Medicare without penalty and encourage a private insurance market for seniors
- Use Medicaid for the truly poor
- Implement voucher programs for Medicare and Medicaid enrollees so these patients can direct their own health care dollars and benefits
- Allow state block grants for Medicaid
- Allow independent medical schools without the mandatory high overhead of accompanying medical research.
- Allow medical schools to determine their own enrollment and graduation numbers.
- Encourage the use of long-term, low interest rate loans for medical students.
- Encourage the use of physician extenders — physician assistants and nurse practitioners — to make the delivery of quality health care more efficient.
- Increase the use of well-trained foreign medical graduates and reduce their visa/immigration requirements.
- Encourage the use of community scholarships for medical students with guaranteed commitments to service in the community after graduation.
- Foster innovative health care delivery methods such as convenient walk-in clinics and personalized concierge practices.
- Remove government from the licensing process and use private rating agencies or professional specialty organizations for competency determinations and to maintain physician quality.
Unfortunately, instead of looking to free-market solutions, we can always count on Progressives to look to targeting its latest obstacle (this time, doctors) and increasing the mandates on everyone. In fact, law Professor William Jacobson at Cornell Law School recently wrote, “As furious as people who have lost their private insurance are now, just wait until those ‘qualifying’ for Medicaid find out that the seeming freebie means they lost their plan, their doctor, and their health care…The result of all this will be a targeting of doctors. Forcing doctors to accept Medicaid patients will be the inevitable solution.”
The New American says, “The idea that an increasingly out-of-control government might resort to coercing doctors into compliance with its schemes may sound far-fetched now — before the full scope of the looming crisis becomes obvious. More than a few analysts and experts, though, expect it to happen sooner or later, as even socialist Obama allies boast that ObamaCare is a mere stepping-stone on the road to full-blown socialized medicine.”
So, perhaps having more physicians (who thoroughly understand the scope of the doctor crisis, and are also privy to patient-centered solutions) elected to the Senate will actually help stop the bleeding from the botched rollout of Obamacare. In fact, The Hill recently reported “eleven Republican doctors are running for the Senate, hoping that voters will see their medical expertise as an asset amid the administration’s botched rollout of ObamaCare.”
Rep. Paul Broun, a family physician running for Senate in Georgia, said, “Doctors are in a very unique position to look at the financing of healthcare…We go into medicine for one reason, and one reason only: Because we care about people, we want the people who we serve to have a productive, happy, healthy life. That’s the kind of policymaker we should have in place in dealing with healthcare policy.”