Obama’s Health Care Bait and Switch

Published June 27, 2012

When a store pulls a bait-and-switch, it’s called fraud.  The store is likely to be prosecuted, pay hefty fines and will bend over backwards to cover up their bad behavior from the public.

But, when the government does it, it’s called health care reform. They pay PR people millions to promote it, and we taxpayers foot the bill for the whole shebang.

The individual insurance mandate and the massive expansion of Medicaid are the government version of bait-and-switch tactics.  It’s like a store that advertises a phenomenal deal on large-screen televisions. But when you get to the store, you find out there aren’t any left because they only had 1 at the store at the start.  Remember the saying, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is?

So to find out if the promise of instant access to care with the wave of the government wand is too good to be true, we decided to ask doctors – you know, the people who actually treat patients – what they think.

And did they give us earful in our survey called “The Future of Medicine: What’s Wrong, Who’s to Blame and What Will Fix It.”

Doctors Know the Difference

Doctors clearly understand what Washington does not – being forced to pay for a piece of paper that says you have “insurance” or that being enrolled in Medicaid is no guarantee you’ll actually be able to get medical care.

Almost 3 out of 4 (72%) doctors say that the individual insurance mandate in so-called “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (PPACA) will NOT improve access to actual medical care.

 “The major problem is the politicians equating health ‘insurance’ with ‘health care,” says a family doctor in the survey we conducted at the Doctor Patient Medical Association.

What the PPACA has done is increased patients’ access to a piece of paper – that says they are “covered” by insurance or “enrolled” in Medicaid or Medicare.  But paper promises don’t translate to actual medical care when doctors can’t afford to see patients at the lowball payments, and patients have to jump through bureaucratic hoops set up by the government.

That’s particularly apparent when it comes to Medicaid.

Medicaid Expansion Will Backfire

Doctors say that a key government provision in the Affordable Care Act – the huge expansion of Medicaid enrollees – is likely to backfire, as almost half (49%) say they will stop accepting Medicaid payments. 

Medicare draws even more complaints from the docs.  Three-quarters (74%) say they will stop accepting new Medicare patients or leave it completely.  Another 27% say they will start restricting services to their current Medicare patients. “I wish I could opt out completely,” writes one.

Surprisingly, it’s not just the lower payments that send them running.  If you guessed “government meddling” (think IPAB) then you win.

If government would just get out of their way, more than HALF would be willing to treat some of those patients for free. “I  want to focus on what is best for my patients and not what a government official deems cost effective…I would be willing to do charity care weekly for the poor and underinsured,” writes a family practitioner in Washington state. 

Lowball payments in the government programs are easy to comprehend as a barrier to care, but what’s their beef with private insurance? 

The doctors say that the private insurers also add tons of compliance time and costs.  Remember – most doctors file your claims for you and wait months to get paid.

But they say the bottom line is that insurance companies are dictating medical care. And they expect PPACA to hand over ever more power to the insurance companies to ‘call the shots’ and micro-manage treatment through the power of the purse. I spend 6-8 hours weekly trying to get insurance companies to cover most of the cost of medications that my patients need,” writes one psychiatrist. 

Doctors Will Quit Rather Than Bow

Add up all of these “hassle factors” and doctors are ready to throw in the towel. A whopping 83% of the docs say all of this makes them think about quitting.  And remember, we ALL lose our doc when one quits- even if we aren’t in Medicaid or Medicare.

You can read what the doctors think will FIX medicine on our website. It’s clear that the only solution is the “Separation of Medicine and State” and to tell politicians to take the same oath that our doctors do – “Do No Harm.”

Kathryn A. Serkes is Chairman of the Doctor Patient Medical Association.