Paper promises don’t mean actual care
By Kathryn A. Serkes and Dr. Mark Schiller
Thursday, July 5, 2012
When a store pulls a bait and switch, it is called fraud. The store is likely to be prosecuted, pay hefty fines and will bend over backward to keep its bad behavior from public view.
But when the government does it, it is called health care reform, and it pays public relations people millions to promote it, and we taxpayers foot the bill for the whole shebang.
What the group of largely young people cheering outside of the Supreme Court don’t understand is that all they have won is the right to a piece of paper that says they are “insured.” But that’s not the same as real medical care, which they will need eventually even if young and healthy now.
The individual insurance mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the government version of bait-and-switch tactics. It’s like the 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 one 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.
They gave us an earful.
Doctors clearly understand what Washington does not: Being forced to pay for a piece of paper that says you have “insurance” is no guarantee you actually will be able to get medical care.
Almost 3 out of 4 doctors (72 percent) say that the individual insurance mandate will not improve access to actual medical care, despite the claims in a new report today from Families USA that would have us believe 200,000 people will die without that piece of paper.
“The major problem is the politicians equating health insurance with health care,” a family doctor says.
What the Affordable Care Act has done is increase patients’ access to a piece of paper that says they are “covered” by insurance. But paper promises don’t translate to actual medical care when doctors can’t afford to see patients at the lowball billing rates, and patients have to jump through bureaucratic hoops set up by the government.
Discounted payments in the government programs are easy to comprehend as a barrier to care, but what is 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. They expect the Affordable Care Act to hand over ever more power to theinsurance companies to call the shots and micromanage treatment through the power of the purse. “I spend six to eight hours weekly trying to get insurance companies to cover most of the cost of medications that my patients need,” writes a psychiatrist.
Add up all of these “hassle factors” and doctors are ready to throw in the towel. A whopping 83 percent of the doctors say all of this makes them think about quitting, which would hurt the poor and the sick the most.
It is clear that the only solution is the “separation of medicine and state” and to tell politicians to take the same oath as our doctors: “Do no harm.
Kathryn A. Serkes is chairman of the Doctor Patient Medical Association. Dr. Mark Schiller is a practicing psychiatrist and DPMA co-founder.