So, Obamacare has passed, been legally upheld by the Supreme Court and appears to have met its enrollment goals. So how far have we really come? Not that far. Let’s look at the statements and actions of some of those who actually run a portion of the system:
We need look no farther than The New York Times, May 26, 2014 for two separate indicators:
First, in an article titled “Hospitals Look to Health Law, Cutting Charity”, the author describes how some large hospital systems are reducing the level of charity care they provide, encouraging patients to sign up for Obamacare instead. Or perhaps Medicaid. Or if the patient doesn’t qualify for coverage, bill them directly. One big shell game, as long as the hospital doesn’t have to eat the costs. (The author didn’t say all of this- the author just stated the facts behind the cost shifting).
Then, in the editorial section, same date, we see responses to an earlier article that blamed the pay of insurance executives for the high costs of care, and attempted to shift the spotlight away from physicians. It was the responses (letters to the editor) that interested me.
No less than three physicians wanted us to know it wasn’t the doctor’s fault. Not to be outdone, a hospital association executive pointed out that it wasn’t the hospital’s fault. Finally a nurse wrote in saying guess what? If we only paid them more… (actually I do think nurses are the “good guys”).
So it’s one big shell game, and it’s not the doctors, hospitals or nurses at fault.
Here’s the news, all of you experts- we know it’s one big shell game. Just make the shell (costs) smaller! So the part that falls on us is tolerable.
With all of your expertise and training, you must be able to conceive of a solution to the problems of the health system that is more sophisticated than simple cost shifting! Two children can do that (“make him pay…no, no, make him pay!).
So now that Obamacare has passed, been upheld and met the enrollment goals, do we all now get to sit back?
No. It’s time to focus on costs. Aggressively. Now.