‘Doc shock’ spreads, as ObamaCare commissars try to legislate it away
The L.A. Times has a big story about “doc shock” spreading like wildfire across California. Unlike the Democrats’ hilariously stupid “job lock” talking point – in which they’ll try to convince their less discriminating followers that employment is a form of slavery which ObamaCare liberates you from by getting you fired – “doc shock” is very real, and it’s getting worse:
A month into the most sweeping changes to healthcare in half a century, people are having trouble finding doctors at all, getting faulty information on which ones are covered and receiving little help from insurers swamped by new business.
Experts have warned for months that the logjam was inevitable. But the extent of the problems is taking by surprise many patients — and even doctors — as frustrations mount.
This vignette about a cancer patient arriving at her oncologists’ to find a brightly-colored sign telling her to get lost will be one of the defining images of the ObamaCare disaster:
Aliso Viejo resident Danielle Nelson said Anthem Blue Cross promised half a dozen times that her oncologists would be covered under her new policy. She was diagnosed last year with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and discovered a suspicious lump near her jaw in early January.
But when she went to her oncologist’s office, she promptly encountered a bright orange sign saying that Covered California plans are not accepted.
“I’m a complete fan of the Affordable Care Act, but now I can’t sleep at night,” Nelson said. “I can’t imagine this is how President Obama wanted it to happen.”
Really? You must have missed the appearance where Obama described doctors as tonsil-stealing vampires who love to perform unnecessary surgery to line their pockets., Ms. Viejo. Or failed to hear the warnings from the absolutely correct ObamaCare critics who told you this was going to happen. Restricted access to doctors is the only way insurance companies can control costs while complying with mandates imposed by politicians who couldn’t treat a paper cut without the aid of paramedics. Barack Obama thinks politics is the only real profession; everyone else is an interchangeable drone. One doctor should be as good as another for you peasants.
Obama supporters are still grappling with the painful realization that their man lied outrageously and shamelessly when he promised they would be able to keep their insurance plans, so it’s tough for them to process he was lying about keeping your doctor, too.
Even the people getting big taxpayer subsidies are finding out their “affordable” plans (everything looks more affordable when someone else pays for it!) aren’t worth much when you can’t find a doctor who will accept them:
Maria Berumen, a tax preparer in Downey, was uninsured for years because of preexisting conditions. The 53-year-old was thrilled to find coverage for herself and her husband for $148 a month after qualifying for a big government subsidy.
She jumped at the chance in early January to visit a primary-care doctor for long-running numbness in her arm and shoulder as a result of bone spurs on her spine. The doctor referred her to a specialist, and problems ensued. At least four doctors wouldn’t accept her health plan — even though the state exchange website and her insurer, Health Net Inc., list them as part of her HMO network.
“It’s a phantom network,” Berumen said.
It was no surprise to her family doctor, Ragaa Iskarous. She has run into this problem repeatedly with other patients in the last month, the doctor said. “This is really driving us crazy.”
“The Phantom Network” was my least favorite Star Wars movie, what with the endless scenes of the evil Senator Palpatine using Sith mind-tricks to make the Galactic Senate forget about the latest Cosmic Budget Office report. I mean, get to the midichlorian-subsidized lightsaber battles already.
You’ll be relieved to know that Ms. Berumen finally got to see a neurosurgeon, “after state regulators intervened on her behalf.” You have state regulators ready to personally intervene on your behalf, don’t you? If so, then rest assured ObamaCare will kinda-sorta work, if you don’t mind waiting for the paperwork to shuffle and the back-channel phone calls to be placed.
Naturally, the Ruling Class – which was either blind or dishonest about doc shock for the past four years – thinks the latest problem created by government can be fixed with more government:
To hold down premiums under the healthcare law, major insurers have sharply cut the number of doctors and hospitals available to patients in the state’s new health insurance market.
Now those limited options are becoming clearer, and California officials say they are receiving more consumer complaints about access to medical providers. State lawmakers are also moving swiftly to ease some of the problems that have arisen.
“It’s a little early for anyone to know how widespread and deep this problem is,” said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “There are a lot of economic incentives for health insurers to narrow their networks, but if they go too far, people won’t have access to care. Network adequacy will be a big issue in 2014.”
Network adequacy. Lovely euphemism. “What did your mom die from?” “Oh, it was a network-adequacy complex, developed after complications from ObamaCare.”
The Washington Examiner reports that federal regulators also think another thousand pages of regulations should fix a few of the problems in the previous fifteen thousand pages :
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Tuesday proposed a new guidance for 2015 aimed at expanding choices of doctors and hospitals on plans offered through the exchanges in President Obama’s health care law…
Awesome! See, you can legislate the laws of supply and demand out of existence! In your face, free markets!
… but in an effort to answer one complaint of Obamacare, the proposed regulations could exacerbate another, by further driving up premiums.
Oh. Never mind.
In a Tuesday letter to health insurers, CMS proposed a new set of rules to govern the plans to be offered through federal health exchanges for the 2015 benefit year.
The proposed rules would require insurers to submit a list of providers offered on each of their plans, and CMS would review the list to make sure that the plans provide “reasonable access” to hospitals, mental health providers, oncologists and primary care services.
“If CMS determines that an issuer’s network is inadequate under the reasonable access review standard, CMS will notify the issuer of the identified problem area(s) and will consider the issuer’s response in assessing whether the issuer has met the regulatory requirement and prior to making the certification or recertification determination,” the letter stated.
Great, so the bureaucrats who dumped the disastrous ObamaCare exchange network in our laps will now make imperial decisions about which doctors must work for what plans, driving the already hideous ObamaCare premiums up even higher, which will doubtless be followed by calls for even bigger deficit-blasting taxpayer subsidies, while the un-subsidized chumps who make the system sustainable by paying far too much for lousy insurance will become even less enthusiastic about enrolling in ObamaCare. Sounds like the coming insurance industry bailout will be even more exciting than we thought!
Another problem with Big Government’s latest scheme to create a problem, and then use it as an excuse to seize even more power, is that doctors might have some inconvenient legal objections to the new requirements. David Limbaugh wrote about one such doctor earlier this week, Dr. Kristin Held of San Antonio, who became an Internet sensation by delivering a declaration of independence to the Aetna insurance company. Among other reasons Dr. Held gave for walking away from ObamaCare, she pointed out that it was forcibly altering her contract to provide services with Aetna, without her consent – or even prior notification! – which made the contract null and void, not to mention victimizing ObamaCare purchasers with what amounts to consumer fraud. She called the system “tyranny through medicine” and declared “I will not comply.”
I will not comply. What beautiful, perfectly American words those are! If the commissars keep pumping out more regulations to patch the holes in the previous round of regulations, I suspect we’ll hear that patriotic declaration even more.
To return to the desperate Democrats and their dopey “job lock” talking point, if we really wanted to dissolve the frankly irrational link between employment and health insurance – another problem Big Government created, then presented itself as the solution to, half a century later – we could have done it without the rest of the garbage in Barack Obama’s train-wreck scheme. Changing the system so that every individual owns their insurance is a feature of all the Republican proposals this deeply dishonest President keeps pretending he’s never heard of. Allowing people to shop in truly competitive national markets for insurance would be the opposite of ObamaCare’s grim top-down socialist debacle, which is going to siphon an unholy fortune in overhead and compliance costs from the private sector. It wouldn’t be necessary to hold anyone at gunpoint to solve the “doc shock” problem under such reforms. Let’s junk ObamaCare and give it a try.