It’s bad enough that Barack Obama’s false promise to let people keep their health insurance is unraveling, but when your old plan gets killed by ObamaCare, you may very well lose your doctor too. This was a matter of particular concern for Edie Littlefield Sundby, a survivor of Stage 4 gallbladder cancer who has reason to believe Obama’s false promises could finish her off. She wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal today in which she revealed her “affordable, lifesaving medical insurance policy has been canceled effective December 31,” and her options don’t look good:
My choice is to get coverage through the government health exchange and lose access to my cancer doctors, or pay much more for insurance outside the exchange (the quotes average 40% to 50% more) for the privilege of starting over with an unfamiliar insurance company and impaired benefits.
Countless hours searching for non-exchange plans have uncovered nothing that compares well with my existing coverage. But the greatest source of frustration is Covered California, the state’s Affordable Care Act health-insurance exchange and, by some reports, one of the best such exchanges in the country. After four weeks of researching plans on the website, talking directly to government exchange counselors, insurance companies and medical providers, my insurance broker and I are as confused as ever. Time is running out and we still don’t have a clue how to best proceed.
She was indeed happy with her old plan, and tragically believed President Obama when he promised, over and over again, that she would be able to keep it:
Since March 2007 United Healthcare has paid $1.2 million to help keep me alive, and it has never once questioned any treatment or procedure recommended by my medical team. The company pays a fair price to the doctors and hospitals, on time, and is responsive to the emergency treatment requirements of late-stage cancer. Its caring people in the claims office have been readily available to talk to me and my providers.
Sundby observes that one of the dumbest things about the government-managed mess of a healthcare system we had before ObamaCare only got worse due to this great “reform:”
Before the Affordable Care Act, health-insurance policies could not be sold across state lines; now policies sold on the Affordable Care Act exchanges may not be offered across county lines.
What happened to the president’s promise, “You can keep your health plan”? Or to the promise that “You can keep your doctor”? Thanks to the law, I have been forced to give up a world-class health plan. The exchange would force me to give up a world-class physician.
For a cancer patient, medical coverage is a matter of life and death. Take away people’s ability to control their medical-coverage choices and they may die. I guess that’s a highly effective way to control medical costs. Perhaps that’s the point.
So much for the latest left-wing lie, which is that only lousy plans that weren’t keeping have been wiped out by ObamaCare. Nothing short of Obama’s original “if you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it” lie could be further from the truth. On the contrary, these new ObamaCare plans are often demonstrably inferior – higher deductibles, cuts to the benefits that really matter, and the loss of doctors who are familiar with patients like Edie Littlefield Sundby.
Unable to help themselves, the White House hatchet men attacked this cancer survivor for daring to speak the truth, gleefully circulating a scrap of left-wing drivel that purported to show the eeeeeevil insurance company just wanted to get rid of Sundby, and used the passage of ObamaCare as a convenient excuse. We heard the same thing from the Left when its financial regulations almost wiped out the planetary economy in 2008, and far too may people bought it. It was all the fault of those bankers who followed the regulations Democrats protected for years by lying and savaging anyone who warned of impending doom.
Just for starters, the state of California made insurance providers sign contracts that force them to cancel existing policies. Even with that inconvenient bit of data set aside, we’re back to the idea that our central planners can assert their will beyond the laws they pass; the insurance companies are to be castigated for responding to a regulatory burden by legally taking entirely understandable actions that the commissars don’t like.
The notion that any insurance executive thinks he can win a blame game with the White House team of character assassins and its slavishly devoted media, by using ObamaCare as a flimsy excuse to drop clients they somehow could not divest themselves of previously, is… well, in the unlikely event any of the government’s Little Partners actually believed that, they would be candidates for psychiatric evaluation.
The Associated Press has another sad story of a family that won’t be able to keep its doctors:
Dean Griffin liked the health insurance he purchased for himself and his wife three years ago and thought he’d be able to keep the plan even after the federal Affordable Care Act took effect.
But the 64-year-old recently received a letter notifying him the plan was being canceled because it didn’t cover certain benefits required under the law.
The Griffins, who live near Philadelphia on the Delaware border, pay $770 monthly for their soon-to-be-terminated health care plan with a $2,500 deductible. The cheapest plan they found on their state insurance exchange was a so-called bronze plan charging a $1,275 monthly premium with deductibles totaling $12,700. It covers only providers in Pennsylvania, so the couple wouldn’t be able to see the doctors in Delaware whom they’ve used for more than a decade.
“We’re buying insurance that we will never use and can’t possibly ever benefit from. We’re basically passing on a benefit to other people who are not otherwise able to buy basic insurance,” said Griffin, who is retired from running an information technology company.
No doubt the White House bruisers will be along any minute to slander this guy and claim he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He should be happy that Barack Obama killed off his old policy and saddled him with a more expensive, inferior product that won’t let him see his longtime family doctor any more!
Incidentally, later in the story we learn that the Griffins are thinking about paying Obama’s new middle-class tax, the individual mandate, to buy the privilege of not having to pay for his lousy, overpriced health insurance. ”They say they are healthy and don’t typically run up large health care costs,” the Associated Press explains. ”Dean Griffin said that will be cheaper because it’s unlikely they will get past the nearly $13,000 deductible for the coverage to kick in.”
Liz Shield at Breitbart News notes that people will be losing access to hospitals as well as their trusted family doctors:
Because the ACA caps premiums, insurers will be have to offer less money to the nations best doctors and hospitals. In return, the hospitals will simply refuse to accept those insurance plans.
The Cleveland Clinic is one such example. “The Cleveland Clinic accepts dozens of insurance plans if you buy one on your own. But go through Obamacare and you have just one choice: Medical Mutual of Ohio.”
The situation is the same in California. Cedars-Sinai will only have one Obamacare company in its network.
“Many companies have selectively entered the exchanges because they are concerned that (the exchanges) will be dominated by risky, high-using populations who wanted insurance (before Obamacare) and couldn’t afford it,” said [Gail] Wilsensky [former Medicare advisor for the Bush Administration], who is also on the board of directors of UnitedHealth. “They are pressed to narrow their networks to stay within the premiums.”
Among the many other bug-like features of the HealthCare.gov website is that you can’t really tell if you’ll be able to keep your doctor when you’re shopping for a policy. To paraphrase Nancy Pelosi, you’ll have to buy your policy to find out who’s in it.
Update: A few more data points about the oncoming tide of doctor chaos…. The Heritage Foundation reminds us that, thanks to the ObamaCare raid on Medicare, your preferred hospital might not be around much longer, even if your new insurance plan would have covered it. ”The Administration’s non-partisan actuary concluded that the law’s unsustainable spending reductions to Medicare could cause 15 percent of hospitals to become unprofitable by 2019, and 40 percent to become unprofitable by 2050 – which could have a significant impact on beneficiaries’ access to care,” Chris Jacobs of Heritage writes.
David Freddoso at the Washington Examiner lands a few more body blows on the argument that ObamaCare is helpfully exterminating lousy insurance plans that only stupid people would be happy with. ”If these millions of canceled plans are ‘junk,’ then why are so many of the ObamaCare substitutes so vastly inferior and more expensive?” Freddoso asks, noting that restrictions on access to providers are a common feature of the inferior, but vastly more expensive, ObamaCare plans.