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.