Doctor shortage snarls Obamacare
In 2009, President Obama, touting his proposed health care legislation to the American Medical Association, said, “No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”
The promise you could keep your insurance plan is already broken, as insurers raise rates, reduce coverage or even pull out of certain markets altogether. Now, broken as well is the president’s promise that you can keep your doctor “no matter what.”
Buried in one of many stories about the hobbling debut of the Obamacare insurance exchanges is distressing confirmation that, even if you manage to surmount the website glitches and crashes to successfully register, you will face significant restrictions on which doctors you are allowed to select.
Blue Shield of California confirmed to the San Jose Mercury News that half its network of physicians will be available to those who sign up for Obamacare. Anthem Blue Cross of California will allow access to 60 percent of its doctors.
Welcome to rationing.
Even more worrisome than if you will be able to keep your doctor, is the prospect that it will be harder to see a doctor at all. Americans are a growing population with a shrinking number of doctors to care for us, and, as the boomer generation ages, they will need more frequent and intensive care.
Yet, nearly half the nation’s physicians are at least age 50, with many approaching retirement.
Medical schools are producing more specialists than primary-care doctors at a rate of 4-1, and increasing numbers of doctors in primary care are choosing “concierge” practices, where patients pay extra for access.
How will the health care system cope with the new demands of millions of formerly uninsured people with subsidized coverage, aging people requiring more-frequent care and fewer doctors to see them?
For those who can afford it, health care will become an expensive exercise in privilege, with private physicians and hospitals. For the majority, shortages will lead to long waits, a decline in quality of care, and higher costs.
But the federal government has taken on itself all these problems to solve.
And that government can’t seem to build an insurance enrollment website that works.
Enrolling people should be the easiest part. However, when run through the Washington mill of favors, waste and plain old bureaucratic incompetence, it becomes a nightmare.
According to the Washington Examiner, the administration hired a Canadian company, CGI Federal, (whose contract was previously terminated by the Montreal government for failing to deliver an online medical registry for that Canadian city) to work with another contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton, (which employed NSA leaker Edward Snowden).
Overseeing both was the agency in charge of Medicare and Medicaid, whose administrator, Donald Berwick, when asked about the dysfunctional system, was quoted by the New York Times as saying, “We did not have enough money.”
They had $400 million.
Our government is, partly by design, both unwieldy and slow. The founders bequeathed to us a system intended more to protect us from despotism than to facilitate minute control over our everyday lives.
Even if we accept the premise that a forced purchase of health insurance, with some people paying to subsidize others, is a great idea, the federal government has simply not demonstrated yet the competence to manage it.
— From the Orange County Register
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