Obama Health Care. Finally? Part I

Things related to health care have been quiet lately, mostly because of the current economic crisis.  President Obama inherited a huge mess from George Bush, and it will take nothing short of a miracle, or just good old fashioned time, to make it better.  During his first month in office, Obama has overseen the most expensive piece of legislation aimed at defibrillating a dead economy back to life.  What has taken a backseat was health care.  That is until the number of unemployed began to increase to some of their highest monthly levels in years.  These displaced workers became some of the very “uninsured” that the candidates were drawing to their respective bosoms in an attempt to get their vote at election time.  Now that the number of uninsured have swelled because of increasing unemployment, the government again will have to step in to provide coverage, or they will be an even greater drain on an already strained health care system.  Obama’s first move was to extend CHIP to cover more children. Some of these are children of the recently unemployed or children who did not qualify for coverage previously.  And most people think that by extending that coverage fixes a problem.  But it really does not.  What it does is drive a self-paying patient into the health care system where the reimbursement for that patient is LESS than the cost to see them, process their claim and pay for the overhead costs associated with their visit.  Many physicians would rather NOT process the claim and just see them for free.  The feeling is that it is cheaper!

In my state of Ohio, Medicaid pays about 45% of the usual and customary fee that Medicare pays for the identical service.  Once that reduced payment goes through one of the managed Medicaid programs like Molina Healthcare, Amerigroup or Buckeye, the amount of reimbursement is much less, if you get paid at all.  No wonder they are so successful!  Just don’t pay.  Great concept.

As a result, many physician groups have refused to see these patients, limiting their choice for true quality health care.  If you look back to my previous post of 1/26/08, I looked at the cost of health care in the US using the same data that the candidates quoted last election to whip everyone into a frenzy.  Looking at the data again, you’ll see that by expanding CHIP, the government just increased funding for one of the most expensive health care programs in the country.  At nearly three times the cost of the private sector, it covers far fewer people for the same dollar.  And this is the type of fiscal responsibility that is pushing a 787 Billion dollar stimulus package through Congress.  What if the stimulus package has as much waste as the CHIP program the government thinks is so wonderful?

Sounds like politics as usual.

Doc B.

My opinion is free.

Advice is worth exactly what you pay for it.

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