Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Note to government: Stop helping already!

Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at NYU, writes at National Review:
Last year, I ordered a CT scan of the chest on a 63-year-old patient whose chest X-ray had revealed a lung nodule. I had no problem getting the test approved by his private insurance company. The radiologist suggested that I repeat the CT scan this year to make sure the nodule hasn’t turned into cancer.

But this year, the same insurance company is denying the test, having clamped down on several elective services while also raising its premiums. This company now has to cover children with pre-existing conditions and can place no lifetime limits on care. It is struggling to preserve its profits as Obamacare kicks in — profits that, to begin with, are only approximately 4 percent of its total revenue.

Next year, my patient will have Medicare. He can’t afford a secondary insurance plan (Medicare Part B covers only 80 percent of most charges), and he doesn’t qualify for Medicaid as his secondary, so he was hoping to join a Medicare Advantage plan — a private insurance plan that seniors can choose to receive, partly at government expense, instead of Medicare. But in 2011, Medicare Advantage is due to be cut $140 billion by the new law, and it is doubtful that the plan he wants will still be available. Harvard Pilgrim, the second-largest insurer in Massachusetts, has just dropped 22,000 patients from its Medicare Advantage plan in anticipation of these cuts. Soon seniors everywhere will have the same problem. In fact, the Medicare actuary estimates that 7 million out of the 11 million people with Medicare Advantage will be set adrift over the next seven years. [emphasis mine]

These cuts and changes were predicted by opponents of Obamacare, but the president called them lies and insisted that no one would have to give up their health plans or see reductions in coverage (read rationing). We're seeing new stories like this reported every day, so it's no wonder Democrats aren't boasting about Obamacare on the campaign trail.

I'm not sure what the proper amount of cynicism is, but whether intentional or not, it's easy to see how Obamacare is exacerbating the problems with our health care system. That certainly lays the groundwork for government to swoop in and "rescue" us in a few years with the "solution" of the public option and a fully socialized health care system.

How often do we see government fail at fixing the problems they created in the first place?

HT: Betsy

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