10 Ways Obamacare Limits Patient Choice

By Kirk Raymond | 8/17/12

new Heritage Foundation report details 10 ways seniors will have their health care severely limited by Obamacare.

Under Obamacare, all preventive services rated “A” or “B” by the United States Preventive Services Task Force are mandatory and all patients must pay premiums for these services.  Any service rated “C” or “D” — like screening for testicular or ovarian cancer — could be dropped to keep costs down.

Obamacare dictates expanded preventative care for women, including forcing Americans to pay for contraception or abortifacient drugs.  Adding this coverage when it is unnecessary or against religious beliefs raises the cost of health insurance without adding useful coverage.

Obamacare includes an “essential health benefits package” which is a list of services the Department of Health and Human Services demands health insurers cover.   Since “essential” coverage will be decided by bureaucrats, it’s likely that many Americans will pay for coverage they don’t need and will not be able to get coverage for something they might want.

Many Americans now use Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s) to pay for medical goods or services out of pocket.  An Obamacare regulation called Medical Loss Ratio means HSA programs will be phased out.

Obamacare uses two new bureaucratic boards to limit patient care.  The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) will decide what care is deemed “necessary” — and thus paid for — and that which isn’t, which will not.  The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute is supposed to compare treatment options but will actually be another means to reduce choice in treatment.

Obamacare’s Medicare Value-Based purchasing program pays hospitals differently based on federal quality measures.  This could lead to hospitals treating patients with the best value in Medicare reimbursement rather than the most effective treatment.

DoctorsExpanding Medicaid and cutting provider payments for Medicare providers will lead to shortages of doctors and much longer waits for health care.  In Boston, under the near universal Romneycare, for example, the average wait to see a primary care physician is two months – while the rest of the country’s average wait is about three weeks.

Many doctors, over-worked from administering all the new “free” Obamacare mandates, will decide to enter so-called “concierge” medical services.

A patient would pay a yearly retainer in exchange for a doctor having a much smaller patient list and more access to the doctor for advice and medical visits.  A typical family doctor currently sees 2,500 patients but by moving to concierge services, that doctor would now only take on about 500 — leaving 2,000 patients to find a new doctor.

Finally, Obamacare guts the popular Medicare Advantage program, where seniors can choose a health insurance policy that better fits their needs than the traditional Medicare plan does.

Early Estimate of 2013 COLA: 1% – 1.5%

According to an analysis by the website Calculated Risk, seniors can expect a 1% to 1.5% COLA for 2013, pending the actual data for August and September.

COLA’s — or cost of living adjustments — are calculated based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners (CPI-W) average over the third quarter of the previous year.

The July 2012 CPI-W was 1% higher than the third quarter average for 2011.  Based on recent increases in gas and food prices, the estimate for third quarter CPI-W for 2012 could be as high as 1.5%.