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home : opinion : columns April 28, 2016

2/12/2013 6:00:00 AM
Column: Obamacare: Unexpected stings
Elizabeth Vliet
Tucson Physician

Many promises were made to different groups to sell the new health care law to a skeptical public. Having watched the medical insurance games - government and private - for my whole career, I thought these promises were too good to be true.

What is coming to light now is like "The Big Con" that Robert Redford's character skillfully pulled off in the classic movie The Sting. Only the Pelosi-Reid-Obama trio forced through an even bigger "Sting" on the entire country, especially the very constituencies they promised their health care law would help.

One by one, the political promises fall like dominoes. The very groups that strongly supported government control of health care are now some of the ones getting stung badly. The effects are like a swarm of killer bees suddenly descending on the unsuspecting, stinging everyone in sight.

Our personal New Year's sting was a 22.5 percent jump in my husband's Medicare supplemental premium for the 2013 renewal. Reason: Obamacare regulations and mandates.

Then I received the notices for our employees' health insurance premiums: more premium increases - even though we have a high deductible, catastrophic illness-type plan to help keep costs affordable.

Next, the IRS projected premiums of $20,000 per year for a family of four. Affordable? For whom? This sting is a $3,000 to $5,000 increase instead of the promised $2,500 savings per year - a miscalculation of $5,500 to $7,500 for a family of four.

Large national restaurant chains are cutting employees' hours because they cannot afford to pay the high health insurance premiums for "full-time" employees. How can the middle class make ends meet on part-time work?

Liberal groups that overwhelmingly supported Obamacare are also getting stung. Of course, these announcements came after the election, in which these constituent groups supported Obama in droves:

College students: Before Obamacare, young healthy college students paid average health insurance premiums that only cost $100-600 per year. Obamacare mandates mean that premiums are rising to $1,700 to $2,000 per year. In New Jersey, where health insurance is mandatory for college students, this is indeed a huge sting!

College faculty: At many universities, faculty hours are being cut back to less than 29 hours a week to avoid the costly Obamacare premiums.

Union members: the sting of Obamacare has come in many forms, so Big Labor is now seeking waivers for union members.

Smokers: Many who fell for Obama's promise of "free" or lower cost medical care are learning that their premiums will be 50 percent higher than nonsmokers - up to $4,250 dollars per year in excess costs for smokers age 55 and older.

Employers: Paying for all the Obamacare mandates in employer-provided health insurance adds $1.79 to the hourly rate to hire an employee. That's why many are not hiring.

Seniors: After the election, seniors are learning that all the promises of "no cutbacks" in their medical care were false.

The Senior Sting is especially ugly. One 80-year-old patient told me his heart medicine was no longer covered, "because I am too old now." Preventive services and cancer screenings for the older patients, such as prostate and breast cancer checks, are being cut to pay for "free" birth control pills. As of 2012, hospitals are paid more to provide fewer surgeries. Popular and lower cost Medicare Advantage plans are being cut back or eliminated.

Then there is the Medicaid sting: States that are expanding Medicaid plan to cut payments to doctors and hospitals to about 56 percent of what private insurance companies pay. This means more patients lined up for fewer doctors and hospitals.

And let's not forget the privacy sting. Your electronic health record will be used to decide what treatments you will be allowed. The IRS will be collecting expanded personal information about your income, habits and family to decide what to sting you on penalties.

In short - old or young, black or white, liberal or conservative - once Obamacare was forced on patients across the country (except Congress and the President) - everyone has gotten The Sting - in the Biggest Con of all.

Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D., is a preventive and climacteric medicine specialist with medical practices in Tucson and Dallas. Visit http://www.aapsonline.org/ for more information.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Article comment by: Rick O'Shea

What I found hilarious about ObamaCare was the Demotards claiming that we would all have universal healthcare like England and when it was found out that it was in no way like England's healthcare system they didn't complain, they just kept on supporting it. I can sympathize with you Mrs. Vliet, my company told us all last year that if ObamaCare goes into effect we could see a possible 30% increase, we didn't, we got a 32% increase. I think each and every person that supported ObamaCare should have to pay out of their pocket for the increase in health care costs for those that didn't support ObamaCare.

Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

It's easy to see on here, the obama loving liberals will never believe the truth put before them.

I would be unable to now get well women checks annually had I not already had cancer. Otherwise, it would not be covered. Daily, there are more and more things not covered for the elderly. For BM to say, pay for it yourself kind of circumvents what the insurance was for in the first place.

This Dr is right on but even more can be found by following Dr. Betsy McCaughey who has read the bill and knows it all. It's a horror story playing out.

Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Article comment by: David Gaither

The only bright spot in this dark storm called ObamaCare, is that those same liberals that cheered for the passage of this monstrosity, will now suffer the consequences, along with us, who tried to tell them, what a scam it was!

In the coming months and years, we will finally learn who among us is truly brain dead, because they will still be cheering the passage of this country destroying law!

Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Article comment by: What a load

Obamacare busted 2 doctors in Scottsdale and one in Parker for charging Medicare for "melanoma treatments" of several patients.

But the patients never had melanoma --- they had benign moles that were purposely misdiagnosed to receive high dollar payments from Medicare.

So far, the Obamacare FRAUD TASK FORCE has busted hundreds of doctors who are defrauding the program, and billions of dollars have been recovered.

In 2014, you will see even harder crackdowns on fraudulent doctors ---- And those doctors are scared.

If your doctor is telling you to be scared of Obamacare, then you really should be scared of your doctor.

Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

As a person on Medicare I saw no 20% plus jump in my premium (mine went up by just over $2 a month) and my personal insurance went up by a whopping $6, the least it has gone up in years.

“The Senior Sting is especially ugly. One 80-year-old patient told me his heart medicine was no longer covered, ‘because I am too old now.’”

If any medication is no longer covered by Medicare (something I seriously doubt) the patient can still obtain the drug simply by paying for it.

“Preventive services and cancer screenings for the older patients, such as prostate and breast cancer checks, are being cut to pay for ‘free’ birth control pills.”

As a point of fact my access to preventive procedures has opened dramatically thanks to the ACA.

“As of 2012, hospitals are paid more to provide fewer surgeries.”

Proof, please.

“Popular and lower cost Medicare Advantage plans are being cut back or eliminated.”

Medicare Advantage was a cash-cow for the private insurance industry and cutbacks in Advantage have been funneled into the Medicare system to provide more services for seniors.

Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Article comment by: Doctor Up Story

I don't believe you. Come back with proof to back up what you wrote, with ALL the facts, not just some of them which slant your story to project a false image.

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