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The Fourth Obamacare Shock Wave Is about to Reach Us

November 13, 2013 in Economics

By Jim Powell

Jim Powell

Obamacare is intensifying the doctor shortage — though not in ways that were anticipated.

Everybody seems to have expected that Obamacare would sign up some 30 million people who don’t have health insurance, and they would overwhelm doctors’ offices. But these people — especially the young and healthy whose sky-high Obamacare premiums were supposed to finance everybody else’s subsidies — have stayed away. They know a bad deal when they see one.

Although the young and healthy aren’t going for Obamacare, the doctor shortage is intensifying, because government intervention generally is making it more expensive and difficult for doctors to do their job.

Obamacare is intensifying the doctor shortage — but not in ways that were anticipated.”

Government-run Romneycare — the model used for Obamacare — was enacted in Massachusetts in 2006, and a recent survey by the Massachusetts Medical Society found that half the state’s primary care practices aren’t accepting new patients. At practices accepting new patients, the average wait to see a family physician is 39 days, and the average wait to see an internal medicine physician is 50 days.

Because so many people in Massachusetts don’t have a doctor, there has been a sharp increase in the number of emergency room visits. Stressed-out emergency room nurses are talking about possible strikes.

Medicare has multiplied the number of people who can’t see a doctor. Medicare reimbursement rates are about 40 percent less than private insurance reimbursement rates. Consequently, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the number of doctors who no longer accept Medicare patients has tripled during the last three years.

Only about half of doctors accept new Medicaid patients, and the number appears to be declining as a consequence of lagging reimbursement rates, long reimbursement delays and high administrative burdens associated with Medicaid patients. Yet Obamacare is rapidly expanding the number of people on Medicaid.

Obamacare reimbursement rates are lower than Medicare. Obamacare has a special disadvantage, too: a 90-day grace period. This means people can buy an Obamacare policy, have costly procedures done and then cancel the policy within 90 days. If the cancellation comes during the first 30 days, the insurer is responsible for trying to collect payment, but after that, doctors are on their own. They would have to spend time and money chasing patients for payments. California Healthline reported that deadbeats “would not receive a fine, a premium rate increase or a …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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