If you like the healthcare you have, you can’t keep it

On July 21st of last year, President Obama made a promise to the American people.  In a televised speech, the president gave us his word:

If you like your current plan, you will be able to keep it.  Let me repeat that:  If you like your plan, you’ll be able to keep it.

On December 9th, I wrote a blog in which I quoted a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that refuted Mr. Obama’s claim:

We estimate that between 9 million and 10 million other people who would be covered by an employment-based plan under current law would not have an offer of such coverage under the proposal.

Now it appears that skepticism regarding the president’s ability to keep his promise was in fact warranted.  In an op-ed written for this morning’s Wall Street Journal, Dr. Scott Gottlieb writes:

President Obama guaranteed Americans that after health reform became law they could keep their insurance plans and their doctors. It’s clear that this promise cannot be kept. Insurers and physicians are already reshaping their businesses as a result of Mr. Obama’s plan.

That is because the new law places caps on how much insurance companies can spend on expenses.  Beginning next year, insurers will be allowed to spend no more than 20 percent of what they take in in premiums on running plans sold to small employers and individuals; and, they will be allowed to spend no more than 15 percent of what they take in on plans sold to large employers.  These new regulations will have the greatest impact on those who purchase their insurance directly rather than receiving through an employer.  Gottlieb writes:

…individual policies have high start-up costs. If insurers cannot spend more of their revenue getting plans on track, fewer new policies will be offered.

That means that some policies currently being offered will be no longer be available and even if patients “like their current plan,” they will still lose it.

But the Democrats’ reform bill will not only affect the coverage offered by insurers; it will also affect how doctors administer care.  The new regulations will raise operating costs, making it more difficult for doctors to own their own practices.  In fact, many have begun selling their private practices to local hospitals.  In 2005, over two-thirds of medical practices were privately owned by doctors.  But as of next year, over 60 percent of physicians will be salaried employees with about a third working in hospitals.  This shift away from privately owned practices will undoubtedly cause some patients to lose the doctors and the care that they currently enjoy.  According to Gottlieb:

Consolidated practices and salaried doctors will leave fewer options for patients and longer waiting times for routine appointments.

Routine appointments aren’t the only places that Americans can expect longer wait times.  According to Jay Heflin of The Hill, the Democrats’ healthcare reform bill will force 32 million newly insured patients into the already overused emergency rooms.  Although one of the goals of reform was to alleviate some of the pressures felt by ERs by providing preventative medicine for those who typically end up in them, America does not possess the infrastructure to accommodate tens of millions of new patients.  In Heflin’s article, Rich Dallam, a healthcare partner at the architectural firm NBBJ, states:

Everybody expected that one of the initial impacts of reform would be less pressure on emergency departments; it’s going to be exactly the opposite over the next four to eight years.  We don’t have the primary care infrastructure in place in America to cover the need. Our clients are looking at and preparing for more emergency department volume, not less.

In fact, the Academy of Architecture for Health predicts that hospitals will have to spend at least $2 trillion over the next 2 decades to keep up with the rising demand.

The fact of the matter is that in place of the real reforms promised by President Obama and the Democrat-run Congress, Americans should expect less care, fewer options and longer wait times.  Fortunately, the fight to take back America and repeal this healthcare nightmare has already begun.  And November is just a few short months away.           

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