So writes Danielle Kimberly in Ebony, as she discovers for herself what conservatives meant when we repeatedly warned that obtaining health coverage is not the same thing as securing healthcare:
“I’m sorry, we are no longer accepting that kind of insurance. I apologize for the confusion; Dr. [insert name] is only willing to see existing patients at this time.” As a proud new beneficiary of the Affordable Health Care Act, I’d like to report that I am doctorless. Ninety-six. Ninety-six is the number of soul crushing rejections that greeted me as I attempted to find one. It’s the number of physicians whose secretaries feigned empathy while rehearsing the “I’m so sorry” line before curtly hanging up.
You see, when the rush of the formerly uninsured came knocking, doctors in my New Jersey town began closing their doors and promptly telling insurance companies that they had no room for new patients. My shiny, never used Horizon health card is as effective as a dollar bill during the Great Depression. In fact, an expert tells CNN, “I think of (Obamacare) as giving everyone an ATM card in a town where there are no ATM machines.”
If you assumed the author of this piece surely learned a valuable political lesson from her experience, you’d be mistaken. She goes on to gush about how “grateful” she is for the “tremendous strides” President Obama has made on healthcare, praising the government’s “valiant attempts” to address this problem, and implicitly placing most of the blame for her plight on greedy doctors (I wonder where she got that idea). It goes without saying that less partisan victims won’t be as forgiving of the political operation that sold them this bill of goods. Critics of Obamacare have been citing simple math and expert analyses for years in arguing that the new law would exacerbate an increasingly acute doctor shortage. Cheerleaders for Obamacare’s enormous Medicaid expansion never seem to mention that the broken program (a) doesn’t improve health outcomes for its recipients, (b) deepens the “uncompensated care” problem it’s supposed to help alleviate, and (c) all too often provides appallingly bad access to care for beneficiaries. Jim Geragthy runs through just a few relevant stats:
A study from Merritt Hawkins released in February found that less than half the doctors in the nation’s largest cities take Medicaid patients; in 2009 it was above 55 percent. The range varies widely from city to city and from specialty to specialty, but in some cities, it is nearly impossible to find a specialist who accepts Medicaid. Only 7 percent of cardiologists in Minneapolis accept Medicaid; only 15 percent of dermatologists in Philadelphia; only 35 percent of obstetricians and gynecologists in Denver; only 28 percent of orthopedists in Seattle, and only 32 percent of family practitioners in New York City.
Shortly after Mary West bought health insurance, she realized there was a problem. For years, the Spartanburg resident was treated by a doctor at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. Now that she has a shiny new health insurance card in her pocket, she will have to find somewhere else to receive care. “I have to find a different health care provider,” she said. “It’s frustrating.” … What West learned after she bought insurance caught her by surprise. “Consumers’ Choice (representatives) told me I could go to Regional, but I was going to have to pay out of pocket,” West said. Of the insurance providers with plans for sale on healthcare.gov, Spartanburg Regional, has a contract only with Coventry. It will accept patients with the other plans, but those patients must pay out-of-pocket expenses.
Meanwhile, 1,800 middle class New Jersey families have received letters informing them that their kids’ health plans have been canceled under Obamacare. Millennials are fretting over the cost of coverage offerings on the exchange, and Hawaiians on the small group market are bracing for substantial premium increases next year:
Hawaii’s troubled Obamacare exchange cost taxpayers $120 million to build, and only enrolled a few thousand consumers.