New York Times: The Obamacare Rip-off

Is the Obamacare rip-off hurting consumers? The New York Times shows us that it is doing so. I’ve already noted that Obamacare forces consumers to ration themselves. It charges a lot for a Bronze plan (the cheapest legally allowed to be offered) and then charges such high deductibles that consumers refuse health care because they can’t afford it.

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Think about how this benefits health insurance companies. They get to collect premiums but no longer are as likely to have to provide any services.

It seems Obamacare has also given these insurance companies more power to squeeze hospitals and doctors, so now they are in turn finding new ways to try to shake down patients.

Thus, the New York Times story tells us: “As Insurers Try to Limit Costs, Providers Hit Patients With More Separate Fees.”

Cindy Weston of the American Medical Billing Association, an industry group, said it was up to physicians to decide what to include in their principal payment and what merited an extra charge. She said they now “may be forced to charge” for new services because the Affordable Care Act “has shifted so much responsibility for payment from insurers to patients” and patients do not pay as reliably as insurers.

These new fees are worrisome to health advocates. At a time when the country is trying to hold down health care costs, payments from patients shift spending to a place where they cannot be readily tallied. Also, such fees often undercut mandates under the Affordable Care Act that certain vital services for women’s health and preventive care be provided at no cost to patients: An intrauterine device is covered, but there is an insertion fee. An annual physical is covered, but not some of the blood work that a physician has ordered.

Knowing that his new policy under the Affordable Care Act covered preventive care, Kyle Thompson-Westra, 28, a business student in Chicago, selected a doctor in his network and went in January to get his first physical in years.

His insurer paid the doctor’s office about $600 of the $900 bill. He owed over $300 for blood work. There were several tests, such as thyroid function, that the doctor considered part of a routine physical, but that the insurer insisted were not.

The Affordable Care Act gives guidance on what kinds of exams must be covered at no cost as preventive services. But Clare Krusing, a spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry group, said, “If a provider chooses to do something beyond what’s covered, there may be charges.”

Obamacare is nothing more than a way to financially ruin the American middle class and to break the healthcare system. It takes a bad system and makes it worse.

I realize one could see in this an example of government incompetence, but I don’t believe those loopholes could possibly be accidental. This was the design all along.