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What Will Obamacare Do –To You? Part 4

Monday, November 30, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

After guests Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic and Henry Aaron of Brookings –both supporters of Obamacare– appeared on today’s program, the e-mails began to flood in. The transcripts of both interviews will be posted here later. Here’s a long thread of e-mail responses:

#1

I have a cancer that, like so many, is treatable, but not curable at present. The same disease that has killed Peter Boyle and Roy Shieder, and that Geraldine Ferraro and Hobie Alter are currently suffering from – multiple myeloma.
Treatable means that big horrible greedy pharma co’s need to keep coming up with treatments. I’m taking Revlimid, which is a derivative of Thalidomide – so consider the faith that Celgene had to have to stick with such a scary drug to use today to save my life.
I have no confidence at all that once things shake out, and the Public Option sucks the INVESTORS out of the game, that the funding of what the miracle of medical science will continue at nearly the same rate that capitalism brings to game.
And as someone that once the president of an Ins. co that booked 90% of its premium in A & H I know that a public option funded by by a printing press in Philadelphia, controlled by a Congress in D.C. that within 10 years there will be no choice left.
Which, I guess to end my digression, will parallel the hospital industry, which has the same investor paradigm and will leave us with gov’t run hospital/clinics where we can wait in line.
Oops; one more digression. The abuses that will be used by those looking to make money off of such a large part of our economy suddenly run by Feds will be a thing to behold. Maybe you remember what we used to call “Rolling Labs”; they were big old RV’s that would roll into a strip mall offering free physicals. Once they had your Soc. Sec. and health plan number the diagnosis started coming in from all angles. Can you imagine the Fed plan giving a rip? My wife worked for IRS in Ziggaraut Bldg in Laguna Niguel and I’m here to tell you that one walk through the hallways of that facility give you great pause as to who we actually even employ in our Fed gov’t… but there needs to be a place for everyone willing to work, sort of work that is… 😉

#2

Your guest was not accurate about Medicare fee cuts to doctors. There is a 21.5% cut scheduled for 2010. By 2014 the total cut will be 40% according the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The are cuts in nominal dollars. Doctors’ fees will also be reduced by inflation, as we have experienced the past few years when fees were “frozen.”

#3

Hello Hugh,

For 2010, Medicare Advantage [ obtained through my former employer]
will cost me $273.93 per month. Traditional medicare [also through
my former employer] would cost me $357.90 per month. Both totals
include prescription drug coverage. Jonathan Cohen’s statement that
traditional Medicare would cost less for the Medicare participant
LESS is clearly wrong!

Ed
New Kensington, PA

#4

Hugh,
The gentleman you’re speaking with has the preprogrammed salespitch for single payor healthcare down quite well. Unfortunately it’s a ruse. The spiel that the “savings” are based on savings in Medicare Advantage programs is made for publication. In reality, there is NO way the gov’t would save more than a pittance by eliminating Advantage coverage. All Advantage participants pay a premium for additional services. Often the benefits received by the plan participant do not exceed the premium. (I.e., there are a lot of “services” offered for partial coverage, but the number of enrollees that utilize the majority of those services is not that significant)
Medicare supplements (that provide coverage for patients with Medicare part A, part B, and part D) are increasingly expensive. The graph of the cost escalation for this coverage is necessitated by the “gap” from Medicare reimbursement.
The number of medical clinics that are refusing new Medicare patients is rising. In the twin cities, MN, there are more each and every day. Without private pay or “good” third party payors, there is no way a competent physicians’ practice can afford Medicare. Good examples are radiology, anesthesiology, specialty surgeons, and a growing number of professionals with outstanding quality care.
With the collossal number of states well within the financially destitute range, the amount of Medicaid expenditures for poor seniors necessary medical services that Medicare does not cover is skyrocketing. This is no where in the media. Since the number of poor elderly patients is growing rapidly, the state outlay is growing. It is easy to see why Arizona is marketing the state capital. The question is… What is the state budget item that is growing the fastest? The answer is clearly Medicaid for the elderly.
Your guest’s statement regarding nosocomial infection prevention is somewhat valid, but horrendously myopic. It is liberalism without objective thought. Realistically, dialysis patients with multiple depressed immune status’, immunosuppresssion, and a high need for medical treatment, are at major risk for acquired infections. No resistance and multiple ports of entry are a virtual guarantee. To not cover care for these patients is ridiculous. Liberalism is devoid of fundamental analysis. Conclusions based on trend line analyses fail to incorporate legitimate facts pertinent to quality medical care. Generic criteria used to generalize “how to save” by policy makers have a chronic history of ineptness.
Have a good week,
Gene in St Paul
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What Will Obamacare Mean –To You. Part 3.

Monday, November 30, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

From another reader:

Thanks for the invitation for input.

First my mind-set. I don’t think Democrats give a rats backside about what the American people think. Polls could be 65 / 35 against and they will still impose the Obamanation.

Next my situation. I am 69 years old and have worked for Lockheed-Martin for 30 years. I had hoped to retire at 70, but since the economic melt-down, will probably work to 75. For 30 years we have been covered by one HMO or another (“worker-bee” coverage, not executive level). We have been very satisfied with the coverage. This year, Lockheed-Martin is instituting its own coverage. We will see how that works out. If Obamacare becomes law, the corporation will dump us into the government system. That’s what corporations do.[# More #]

As I said, I’m 69 and my wife is 65. If Obamacare had been in place 5 years ago, we would both be dead. As Mark Steyn says, the government would have reduced our carbon foot prints to zero.

Five years ago on Christmas, I had a massive heart-attack. I was rushed to a brand-new private hospital in south Denver, where all of the latest technology was used to save my life. I was given 3 stints (the latest improved models) that are still working perfectly. The HMO paid almost all of the bills.

Three years ago my wife was rushed to the same private hospital. After 12 hours of extensive tests, a specialist discovered that an old spine injury was putting pressure on the spinal column and that she was in danger of complete paralysis. She was in surgery the next day (with the best surgeon and the best support team in Colorado). She has since made a full recovery. The HMO paid almost all of the bills.

We are not stupid people. We know how Obamacare works in Canada. We know how Obamacare works in Britain.

This is not a rational argument (at least not at the level of how will this work or what will it cost?).

Democrats are dead set on taking control of every aspect of every individual American’s life (and death)….

Our only hope is to identify the few remaining sane Democrats and get them to vote against the bill (and while we are at it, we will need a few extra votes to off-set the RINOS).

What Will Obamacare Mean –To You? Part 1.

Monday, November 30, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Below I asked for first person accounts of what the Senate’s version of Obamacare is likely to mean for readers. Here’s the first response, from Andrea in Sacramento:

Hi Hugh –

Thank you for taking input from plain, ordinary citizens about the horrendous “health care” the legislature wants to thrust upon us. We are a homeschooling family, and my husband Mark is self-employed, so we don’t represent the bulk of the nation; but I am very well acquainted with the costs of health care because I have had to buy it for our family for nearly 20 years. Our income is low enough that we qualify for Healthy Families and quite likely qualify for Medicare or Medicaid or whatever they call it, but we don’t believe it is the government’s job to provide health insurance for our family.[# More #]

We were priced out of HMOs years ago when our monthly premium went from about $450 to over $600 (and that was not with a change in age bracket). That was the largest increase we have had in all our years of buying health insurance, but we generally do see a 25% increase each year. I often hear that health insurance costs rise about 10-15% each year; that certainly has not been our experience. Following that huge increase, we switched to PPOs to lower the costs, and we found a great plan for $178, but it nearly tripled in cost in just three years. We then discovered that the insurance company had developed a lower tier without notifying us, so they were charging us $100 more per month than we ought to have been paying. We then began to do business through a broker, thinking that they would have informed us that there was a lower rate that we qualified for. I’ve since learned that that is not the case when earlier this year, I learned that our plan had been lowered by $30 per month; I had to follow up with both our broker and our carrier to get our premium lowered to the new, lower rate.

Every couple of years I have to find a new plan because our current plan becomes too expensive. Usually that means switching insurance companies. In California, we basically have only three choices (excluding Kaiser)–Blue Cross (now called Anthem), Blue Shield, and Health Net. Since Blue Shield was the company that overcharged us for over a year, that leaves just two options for us. Each plan that we have switched to has been a plan newly developed by the insurance company, and with each change in plan, we lose more and more benefits. Right now, for $360 per month, we have a plan with no prescription coverage and a $2,500/$5,000 deductible and a $5,000/$10,000 out of pocket maximum. We essentially pay for everything ourselves, and thankfully we rarely need to use our health insurance, with the exception of my oldest daughter who is being treated for acne.

If the government really wanted to help us (which I don’t think they do), the first thing they could do is allow us to deduct our health insurance premiums as a business deduction rather than merely as an income deduction where it is still subject to self-employment taxes. Another thing they could do would be to allow companies to sell insurance across state lines to give us more options. I’ve even heard of very low-cost programs with doctors and hospitals that are available in other states but not here in California. Through your show, I’ve also learned that the states (and California is likely at the top of the list) have certain mandates that increase the cost of insurance. If those were removed, that would also be a big help to us.

As far as guests to have on the show, the first person I thought of was Bobby Jindal. I would really like to see him run for president in 2012, and I understand he has a background in health care through the Bush administration. We need government officials committed to fixing the problems. I also would like to hear more observations and suggestions from Clayton Christensen. His ideas on innovations in the way health care is delivered seems to be the way to improve the system–using technology to help nurses take on the routine tasks and diagnoses now handled by doctors, thus allowing general practitioners to move into the more routine areas now handled by the specialists so that the specialists can concentrate on the complex cases.

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