One of the oft-stated goals of the Affordable Care Act was insuring the uninsured. For those who couldn’t afford insurance even with the new subsidies, states could expand their Medicaid offerings with (temporary) help from the federal government (i.e., taxation and borrowing). Great, right? Even if you don’t make enough to afford private insurance, you still get medical care, right?
Not if the doctor refuses to take Medicare:
“I’m sorry, we are no longer accepting that kind of insurance. I apologize for the confusion; Dr. [insert name] is only willing to see existing patients at this time.”
As a proud new beneficiary of the Affordable Health Care Act, I’d like to report that I am doctorless. Ninety-six. Ninety-six is the number of soul crushing rejections that greeted me as I attempted to find one. It’s the number of physicians whose secretaries feigned empathy while rehearsing the “I’m so sorry” line before curtly hanging up. You see, when the rush of the formerly uninsured came knocking, doctors in my New Jersey town began closing their doors and promptly telling insurance companies that they had no room for new patients.
My shiny, never used Horizon health card is as effective as a dollar bill during the Great Depression. In fact, an expert tells CNN, “I think of (Obamacare) as giving everyone an ATM card in a town where there are no ATM machines.” According to a study 33% of doctors are NOT accepting Medicaid. Here in Jersey, one has a dismal 40 percent chance of finding a doctor who accepts Medicaid – the lowest in the country.
That insurance or Medicaid card does one a whole lot of good when no one will accept it, doesn’t it?
This is one aspect of a broader access problem that’s going to get more and more attention as we get deeper into the Obamacare morass. In addition to a growing doctor shortage (something that Obamacare may make worse), and shrinking provider networks, the limited number of doctors who accept Medicaid will only get smaller, because the system underpays for their services, and yet under Obamacare is greatly increasing the number of patients. Noble sentiments aside, a medical practice is a business, and a physician or hospital can only afford to see so many money-losing patients before it’s no longer worth staying in business.
Call it another of Obamacare’s broken promises: the government promises you medical care, but what if the care-provider refuses to play?
Of course, one would-be Democratic lawmaker in Virginia has a solution for that: serfdom.
Via Jim Geraghty, who notes it’s even harder to find specialists who take Obamacare.
RELATED: Bobby Jindal has a better idea.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)