Thanks, Obamacare: Doctor Shortages, Jobs Destroyed, Coverage Dropped
The Supreme Court’s decision last month to uphold the Obamacare mandate tax did not vindicate the propriety or efficacy of the law itself, a point Chief Justice Roberts explicitly statedin his ruling. “It is not [The Court's] job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices,” he wrote. As we learn more about Obamacare’s practical consequences, the urgent need for repeal becomes increasingly apparent. Consider the following news items from the past week alone:
(1) “Doctor Shortage Likely to Worsen with Health Law”:
The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that in 2015 the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed. And that number will more than double by 2025, as the expansion of insurance coverage and the aging of baby boomers drive up demand for care. Even without the health care law, the shortfall of doctors in 2025 would still exceed 100,000. Health experts, including many who support the law, say there is little that the government or the medical profession will be able to do to close the gap by 2014, when the law begins extending coverage to about 30 million Americans. It typically takes a decade to train a doctor.
“We have a shortage of every kind of doctor, except for plastic surgeons and dermatologists,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, the dean of the new medical school at the University of California, Riverside, founded in part to address the region’s doctor shortage. “We’ll have a 5,000-physician shortage in 10 years, no matter what anybody does.” Experts describe a doctor shortage as an “invisible problem.” Patients still get care, but the process is often slow and difficult. In Riverside, it has left residents driving long distances to doctors, languishing on waiting lists, overusing emergency rooms and even forgoing care. “It results in delayed care and higher levels of acuity,” said Dustin Corcoran, the chief executive of the California Medical Association, which represents 35,000 physicians. People “access the health care system through the emergency department, rather than establishing a relationship with a primary care physician who might keep them from getting sicker.”
The article goes on to mention the draining pool of doctors who are accepting new Medicaid patients, which will throw up another obstacle to care for indigent Americans — especially after the entitlement program undergoes a massive, Obamacare-mandated expansion. As opponents of the law repeatedly warned, access to health coverage does not equal access to health care. In Canada and other countries with socialized medicine, everyone is “covered,” but doctors are scarce, innovation is curtailed and treatment is limited. This can lead to long waiting periods, government rationing, perverse doctor lotteries and denied care. Furthermore, Democrats chose to exclude meaningful tort reform from their 2,700 page bill, further hanging physicians out to dry. This is why older doctors are quickly shuffling towards retirement, and many promising young students eschew medical school in favor of other careers. Obamacare takes our demographic struggles on this front and makes them even more acute, much sooner.
(2) “One in 10 Employers Plans to Drop Health Benefits, Study Finds:”
About one in 10 employers plans to end workers’ health insurance as the new healthcare law takes effect, according to a new study. The finding could bolster opponents of the law, who argue that its changes to the healthcare system will force workers out of insurance plans they like. Supporters of the law say most people will keep their current coverage. Surveying 560 U.S. companies, consulting firm Deloitte found that 9 percent of employers are planning to drop employee health benefits within three years. Eighty-one percent said they would continue covering employees, and 10 percent said they were not sure.
Is your employer among the 19 percent that are either planning to drop coverage, or are still considering it? Let’s also recall the president’s verbatim promise during the healthcare debate: “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”