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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

ObamaCare Is A Greater Concern Every Week.

Healthcare, Quality of Life, Political, Economy

The last minute ‘rush’ of enrollees trying to get their ObamaCare coverage locked in continues to result in story upon story about how fouled up the HealthCare.gov website continues to be.  I see more failures than completions being reported anecdotally on a national insurance broker network to which I am tied and that is after the fixes are supposed to have occurred.  These are reports from brokers who are trying to help their customers sign up for ObamaCare coverage.

The President continues to administratively add ‘one more day’ for sign-up to the law all the while the system is not performing nearly as well as his minions are reporting when in front of a TV camera.  He reportedly had an administrative assistant go to the District of Columbia office to get the President signed up for a Bronze plan.  The President was in Hawaii at the time.  I’m sure the system can be made to work for the President in one way or another even though this was purely symbolic since he gets his health care coverage through the military medical community.

We hear more and more about the ‘defections’ of Democrats who have to run for office again in the coming year.  They are trying their best to get greater distance between themselves and ObamaCare because they know just how fouled up this roll-out is turning out to be.  Some of their concerns are probably as the result of what I identify below.

First, we have no reliable actual information about numbers of enrollees.  We have only what is being spoon-fed and we must, therefore, doubt the veracity of that information.  If we can’t have it all, then we have to suspect we are seeing only what the government wants us to see at this time.  I suspect the enrollment numbers are much lower than those in government wanted to see.

I have a rapidly growing concern over what will happen as people begin trying to use the coverage they’ve purchased, or been given in the case of Medicaid enrollees.  The people who bought first are also likely to be those who have the greatest needs for health care.  They will be coupled with those who find the largest subsidies being granted.  Those same people are probably buying the lesser expensive plans such as the Bronze plan since they’ve been uninsured until now and will suffer from ‘sticker shock’ when they see the premiums quoted.  Bronze plans will cause out-of-pocket costs of $4,000 or more for individuals, for example. 

Those people will hit the doctors’ offices as soon after January 1, 2014 as is possible.  Wait times for us all will quite probably increase; that was the case in Massachusetts when RomneyCare was rolled out.  Existing doctor shortages will be exacerbated.  Many will find “their” doctor is not available since many of the provider networks have been reduced in numbers to lower plan costs, although that hasn’t been as widespread in Wisconsin so far.

Physician groups will see their collections slow given the inability of the covered person to pay the front-end out-of-pocket costs and their collection costs will increase at the same time.  There will be significant impact on those who deliver health care services.  They are not at liberty to raise their prices to overcome these losses.  They are under contracts, and it is unlikely those reimbursement deals are going to be improved in the near future.  The opposite is more likely.

The groundswell that is likely to develop as these stories are assimilated from all across the country may well be enough to change the dynamic for Congress.  You might begin to see more and more Democrats willing to consider changes to ObamaCare as they begin to feel the heat from constituents.

If this were to occur early enough and in sufficient levels, there is certainly hope that ObamaCare could be altered before it has served to make the current delivery system so unstable and over-taxed as to be threatened with going out of existence.  Remember that all this will be happening in a political atmosphere where realities are most often distorted, where half-truths are the norm, and where people who have not been paying close attention have the same vote that those who have studied the issues have.

We are at a very dangerous point so far as our national health care system is concerned.  A very dangerous point.

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