Washington, DC - There are two good points to Obamacare. Insurance for Americans with preexisting conditions is vital to saving some Americans from financially drowning. Also, not dropping an individual's health insurance because he gets sick is also crucial. Making insurance available for America's very down and out is not a bad thing. However, this is only expanded Medicaid. Helping people to become well, productive, get off Medicaid, work a job and pay insurance premiums must be the goal of every state.
So far here is what Obamacare has done for me beginning January 1 of this year. My premium increased over $250 per month. I now pay 10% of all my medical bills. For example, if my hospital bill is $100,000 I will pay my deductible plus another $10,000. My routine prescription cost has increased. Now, there will always be a charge per prescription. Before January 1, once I met my deductible my prescriptions were free. I don't like using the word free because they weren't really free. My premium was plenty last year as well.
I guess I should be raving about the new Affordable Care Act. I do know people who now have free insurance, paid by taxpayers of course. They have a $6,000 deductible but after that they pay zero. The best aspect of their plan is that they do not pay a monthly premium. The downside is that they do not make very much in salary. For them I am glad they can say they now have medical insurance.
Kentucky has been a shining example of how well the Affordable Care Act has been received. The Governor bragged about how seamless enrollment was for the commonwealth citizens. Over 300,000 Kentuckians were added to the Medicaid rolls of the already financially devastated state. Kentucky is about eighteen million dollars in the red and going deeper.
Even worse, many doctors aren't that excited when a Medicaid patient shows up. Recently I was out of state and needed to see a doctor. While waiting I overheard the receptionist tell more than one person via phone and even at the desk, "We don't accept Medicaid." I'm sure this comes as a big surprise to you but the government pays less than some doctors want to make. I found out how much this particular doctor wanted to make - $175 for the office visit! I got to shell that out since it's January and it will be awhile before I reach my deductible. I was shocked at this office visit price since my good old Indiana doc charges about $80 for an office call.
I realize it's not a perfect world and America has a lot to be thankful for. However, saying that Obamacare will be better for everybody is a matter of opinion. My opinion is that it's not so great.
Here is what we need to do:
We should upgrade the public county health clinics nationwide. We should have a doctor and nurses in every clinic. We are not talking about $300,000 a year salaries for the docs but certainly good salaries. This would be a place where anyone especially the poor could go for free medical help. Remember, there are MDs not accepting Medicaid patients. Good and free clinics would be someplace people could count on.
Have limited emergency care in all the medical clinics.
Keep Medicaid for the truly disabled. Make it temporary for the poor. The poor need it for a time but should not be allowed to be on it forever. A hospital should never be allowed to turn anyone away regardless if they are paying via Medicaid or other insurance carrier.
Making medical insurance competitive would help. People in Florida should be able to shop insurance providers in Texas and vice versa. Allow competition between insurance companies across state lines.
The bottom line is that no American can afford to be without healthcare insurance. A trip to the hospital can bankrupt most Americans. Every American should take personal responsibility for his or her health. We should have affordable American healthcare. The very poor and disabled should have good accessible healthcare. Finally we need to greatly edit Obamacare.
Dr. Glenn Mollette is a syndicated American columnist and author. He is read in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group, organization or this publication.