Add to the poorly planned mix an enormously expensive electronic system that does not work very well and a huge influx of illegal aliens who receive free medical care the moment they unlawfully set foot on our soil, and this overburdened and unnecessarily expensive system became the Affordable Care Act passed by unilateral Democrat support and signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. Colloquially known as Obamacare, despite protests from a majority of Americans, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was upheld by the Supreme Court as a tax.
Prior to ACA’s passing, the National Center for Public Policy Research warned the public in 2009 of the “Shattered Lives, 100 Vic+ims of Government Health Care,” but few paid attention in their excitement at the promise of free and better access, “you can keep your doctor, if you like your doctor,” “premiums will go down $2,500 a year per family,” and pre-existing conditions will no longer matter.
Instead of overhauling the arcane insurance system that left those with pre-existing conditions to fend for themselves, and prohibited selling insurance across state lines, the Democrats have created socialized medicine with an eventual one-payer system, putting government and the IRS in charge of our health.
We were assured by our President that, “I’ll be honest; there are countries where a single-payer system works pretty well.” I agree it does if you have the sniffles. Case after case from Great Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Japan, Russia, Sweden, and New Zealand told the stories of patients who suffered and died at the hands of socialized medicine.
Each case is a chilling reminder that when too few goods are sold to too many people in a socialist system in which medical care is not considered a service but a right, disaster surely follows. As Margaret Thatcher so poignantly reminded us, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” The Department of Health in Great Britain considered its system a success in 2005 because hospital waiting lists were below 800,000.
Socialized medicine and one-payer system is great if you don’t mind:
- Being left blind because you have to wait three years for a twenty-minute surgery
- Pulling your own teeth because you are in so much pain and there is no dentist available due to severe shortage of dentists; there is a good explanation why Brits have such bad teeth
- Waiting 18 months to get a hearing aid
- Being denied a cancer drug because it’s too expensive and you are too old
- Delivering your baby in a hospital bathroom with your mom helping you
- Your baby being born in the hospital parking lot because there is a severe shortage of nurses
- There are no beds in the hospital so whatever emergency you have, burns, delivery, stroke, heart attack, broken limbs, you must wait
- “12-minute ambulance ride takes nearly three hours – every time”
- Having your cancer undetected after 50 hospital visits
- Hospital telling you that you must “come back when you are blind”
- Being penalized for paying for your own treatment or drugs
- Being turned away while in labor
- Flying 5,000 miles to escape National Health System’s wait
- Suffer mixed-sex ward misery while terminally ill
- Being threatened that your health care will be taken away if you pay for supplemental care yourself
- Drowning in hospital bathtub while in labor and left unattended
- Spending all night on a hospital gurney and ignored
- Being left on a cold hospital floor in your old age
- Having transportation refused to and from hospital because you are in a wheelchair
Canadians have been a bit luckier with their healthcare. It has been easy to hop across the border to the U.S. and get their medical needs tended to right away. Free care is a novel and attractive idea if you are an entitled socialist. You have insurance but you can’t get care for serious illness or drugs because they are rationed and in short supply.
The wait lists for MRIs and other expensive procedures can take years. And then there is the dark lottery that Canadian doctors hold; if you “win” the lottery, you lose your doctors. If you protest the lottery, you get bumped from surgery. “You can’t eat, you can’t talk, you can’t move your jaw at all but you must wait three months for treatment.” Some immigrants from Canada fly back to their home countries for life-saving surgeries.
In Australia, an elderly patient waits four years for cataract surgery. Tonsil removal wait is two years. Ankle surgery wait takes three years. A woman in labor is placed in a closet until a bed becomes available. There is no bed to deliver a stillborn baby. A crushed hand takes 8 hours to treat as dictated by government guidelines.
In Japan a critically injured elderly man is turned away by 14 hospitals. A pregnant woman dies after 18 hospitals reject her.
In Sweden, if you delivered a baby without complications, you are out of the door immediately. Former Prime Minister Goran Persson had a wait from September 2003-June 2004 to have a hip replacement surgery in the hard-to-access Swedish healthcare system. Fortunately, he could have paid approximately $11,500 to have it done privately but he refused.
If you seek a colonoscopy in New Zealand, the wait is two years. Expensive cancer treatments are denied, depending on age, and many die before treatment is approved. A woman with a half-completed surgery became infertile and remained in pain for 18 months. A little boy who crushed his finger in a camping accident was sent home bandaged; his finger tip was only held in place by a flap of skin. Fortunately, his mother drove him three hours to Christchurch Hospital where he underwent surgery and his finger tip was reattached successfully. (“Shattered Lives, 100 Vic+ims of Government Health Care”)
I notice on a regular basis, in a nursing home in an affluent part of the U.S., the neglect for the elderly who are screaming and moaning in pain. They are undertreated due to cost and fear that patients in severe pain will become hooked on drugs. Celebrex, an expensive arthritis drug, for example, is replaced with a cheaper variety that is less effective and the patients’ pain management is supplemented with over the counter Tylenol.
Elderly in nursing homes are lucky if they see their doctors at all or even a nurse practitioner. Most treatment and care are administered by employees from third world countries who speak English which is hard to understand. They are very kind, do a very hard job, and try their best, but their best is not always good enough.
Pre Obamacare, Ralph B. paid Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance premium of $270 quarterly for an underemployed adult child. After Obamacare, the premium is now $300 per month, with $8,500 in network deductible and $13,500 out of network deductible.
Dvaughn’s BCBS premium increased from a $450 a month family premium with $1,000 deductible to $1050 a month with a $3,000 deductible. The new policy does cover more services but the family does not need them or use them.
Retail workers in a major chain store had good private insurance even for half-time employees. Many women worked for lower salaries because they liked the security of a good health insurance program with low deductibles and low premiums. With the advent of Obamacare which mandates outrageous coverage, the same employer had to drop all employees into the health care exchange starting January 2016. Many employees are now looking for jobs elsewhere because they cannot afford the high premiums and the high deductibles of the bronze, silver, and gold plans. And those who are receiving subsidies in the Obamacare exchange are just now finding out that they must pay taxes on the subsidy because it is considered income.
A psychiatrist, Bob E., who practices in Vermont and does not participate in any insurance networks, sees patients who pay him at the time of service. Some can get insurance reimbursement for him as an out of network doctor. Even though psychiatrists are in short supply in Vermont, he does not have a wait list. He experiences more patients who say, “No thank you,” when they learn that he is not in network. They have the money but refuse to spend more on medical care after they “have paid insurance premiums and taxes that are too high.” Dr. Bob E. said, “It seems like another failed public policy to create an artificial financial barrier to a psychiatrist who is available when patients spend months waiting for an appointment otherwise.”
Doctors are having a hard time finding referrals to specialists for their patients because Obamacare pays them less than cost. Specialists do take a few Obamacare referrals; if they don’t, they don’t get paid anything for patients they do see in the hospital. A physician tried to get a second opinion for an infectious disease specialist for his patient and nobody agreed to take him within a 25-mile radius. In his opinion, “ACA is not sustainable; it is a complete sham from start to finish.”
Lisa P. tells the story of how her friend has already become a victim of the beginnings of socialized medicine. In need of a refill for her pain management for fibromyalgia, she received spinal shots instead. “Three days later after the injections, she nearly died from a hemorrhagic stroke.” After cutting a piece out of her skull and a second surgery to replace it, the woman is still in a wheelchair and cannot do anything for herself. Once released by her neurosurgeon, she still cannot get regular pain medication for fibromyalgia. With additional pain from back headaches, nerve and muscles due to the stroke, her life is ruined. Thanks to hospital electronic records, her chart is incomprehensible. The new protocol, “don’t give anybody pain pills because we are trying to save the lives of drug addicts,” has certainly turned her life upside down.
Elderly people must take humiliating drug tests so that they can take a half pain pill a day to manage debilitating arthritis and back pain. Pharmacies don’t keep pain pills in stock and cannot tell you by phone if they are out or not. A family member must drive around to various pharmacies in order to get one month’s refill. Patients already in severe pain must drive each month to a pain management doctor because they don’t write refills for pain medications. And elderly don’t drive, putting undue burden on caretakers. Chronic pain patients are treated just like drug addicts and “decent doctors like street corner drug dealers.” Lisa P. said that “People are suffering for want of cheap and safe medications that have been around for decades.”
Going to a doctor now, if you can find one that is properly trained in the U.S. and not hailing from some third world medical school, is an exercise in being ignored by both the doctor and the nurse. They used to look at the patients and talk to them. Now they are busy typing on their laptops the entire time. Strange and impertinent questions are asked along with pertinent questions that the electronic system sometimes mixes up with someone else’s chart.
Many doctors who had their own practices either retired or joined a hospital or an association of many other doctors in order to deal with Obamacare. Once doctors joined such groups, they are not able to give patients discounts for financial hardship or for cash payment. Doctors no longer have authority over their jobs. Because some prescriptions are expensive, doctors must provide prior authorization to insurance and jump through a lot of paperwork hoops before a patient gets needed medication.
Tricare will no longer reimburse patients who get their drugs directly from outside pharmacies because bases may not carry their needed meds on their formulary. Patients must now get them through a direct mail service.
The answer to the question, whether it is a good idea to have politicians and bureaucrats decide your medical treatment and whether you live or die, is a resounding no. There is no such thing as free care, someone else must pay for it either through higher taxes, non-use of services, confiscatory premiums, writing-off costs, government subsidies, or denial of needed services (rationing of care).