Posted by bistiza on 10/29/2012 3:34:00 PM (view original):
This may be a separate debate, but I've heard people attack "Obamacare" for so long now and yet nothing I've read about it gives any reason as to why it's supposedly a bad thing.
From what I've read so far, it does a lot of things, and all of them are good in my opinion - but I don't know as much about it as others do, so if there is someone who thinks it is bad, I'd like to know why.
Here's my problem with Obamacare: while it does a lot of good things (coverage for those who don't have coverage now, coverage for pre-existing conditions, etc.), I'm more concerned about how it does it, and more specifically, what it doesn't do.
The basic problem with health care in the U.S. is that the current system is broken and bloated; there's a lot of money floating around through the health care system. Providers, hospitals, insurance companies, etc. There's a lot of economic inefficiencies in the U.S. health care system.
From what I can tell, Obamacare does nothing to try to identify and correct those inefficiencies. It just throws over a trillion dollars and a shitload of federal bureaucracy at a broken system. That's NOT the way you fix problems. It's a trillion dollar plus band-aid.
A personal example to illustrate what I see as part of the problem: around a year and a half ago, I changed my primary care physician. I went for my first visit to my new doctor for a baseline physical. I was at the doctors office for maybe 35 minutes. I actually met with the doctor for around 15 of those minutes. We talked, he checked me out, he had one of his PA's come in and hook me up to an EKG for a few minutes, and that was it. I paid my $20 co-pay and left.
A few weeks later, I got a detailed bill. Total charges for my 35 minute visit was over $900. Insurance covered around $450 of that. My $20 co-pay was deducted. Around $350 was marked as "write-off". I had a balance of around another $80 that I had to pay out of pocket.
Now I don't necessarily have a problem with paying $100 for a physical, though I thought my portion was only supposed to be my $20 co-pay. What bothers me was the $350 "write-off". WTF is that all about? Why is my doctor saying that $350 of my visit is "um, never mind, forget about that"? Now, extrapolate that to the $450 that my insurance company paid. How much of that would have been a "write-off" on the part of the doctor's office had they not paid it? How much is my insurance company, and other health insurance companies, paying to providers for charges that appear to be thrown onto bills just to see how much will be paid? And finally, where is the insurance companies getting the money to pay these apparently inflated bills? (That part is easy . . . it's coming from a combination of my employer's contribution and my contribution to my health insurance coverage).
I'm also guessing that my doctor has to charge a fair amount of money for office visits because he has pretty hefty malpractice insurance that all physicians have to pay. Why is malpractice insurance so expensive? One would assume it's because there are so many frivolous lawsuits being filed by ambulance chasing lawyers and "victims" looking to make a quick buck. Not that all medical malpractice torts are frivolous, but a lot of them probably are. While many of these suits may not be going to trial for a final resolution, many of them are being settled, even ones that have little to no merit, just to make them go away. Again, the money that is being paid by the insurance companies and the health care providers to settle these suits come from somewhere . . . from you and me, in the end.
What does Obamacare do to address any of this? Nothing. But it sure sounds great to those unwilling to ask the questions.