A personal perspective on Obamacare

March 24, 2014 | By | 6 Replies More

My family just signed up for an extremely expensive “Bronze” policy with Obamacare. It is shameful that there are only two companies “competing” for our dollars in St. Louis (it’s worse than shopping for a phone company). It’s shameful that none of the policies in the bronze or silver range include Barnes Hospital (St. Louis’ premium teaching hospital) in their network. It shameful that even though we are paying $1,000/month for a family of four, that the annual deductible is in the range of $4,300 for indiv and $8,600 for family, with annual out-of-pocket deductible for our family being $12,700. There is no real competition here, and I have yet to see the any reason to believe that the ACA will pressure providers to lower their costs. In America, we pay many times the amount for basic services (e.g., MRI scan) than people in other countries. Our economic side of our hospitals, including “non-profit” hospitals, are a joke, with their executives getting exorbitant salaries while they are on a shopping spree to buy up the local medical practices so that there is no meaningful competition, even your local doctors. I recognize that the ACA forces insurance companies to provide certain minimum coverages and that they can no longer cherry-pick patients based on pre-existing conditions, which was rampant and immoral. The ACA is certainly better than nothing.

The most shameful thing of all, however, is that even with the faults of Obamacare, the Republicans want to destroy the modest protection it offers many of us, and the substantial protection it offers low-income families. They propose to replace it with nothing at all. The Republican proposals I have seen would send all of us back to ravages of the dog-eat-dog for-profit health market where cherry-picked customers pay unregulated prices, where premiums have been skyrocketing for decades, where many folks are offered paltry coverage that they have no way of paying for, and where many people are deemed “uninsurable.” If politicians can only convince us to keep watching lots of sports events and movies, maybe we will never force them to enact meaningful reform.

We need single-payor coverage, like most other civilized countries. For more on the dreadful situation we currently have, check out Stephen Brill’s excellent article.

I’ll end with this somber reality from Brill’s article:

The health care industry seems to have the will and means to keep it that way. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the pharmaceutical and healthcare product industries, combined with the organizations representing doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, health services and HMO’s, have spent $5.36 billion since 1998 on lobbying in Washington. That dwarfs the $1.53 billion spent by the defense and aerospace industries and the $1.3 billion spent by oil and gas interests over the same period. That’s right: the health-care-industrial complex spends more than three times what the military-industrial complex spends in Washington.

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Category: Corporatocracy, Health Care Reform, Medicine

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (6)

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  1. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Something else that’s shameful:
    If you have access to a large bank account, the price of medical treatment is negotiable. An MRI scan billed to insurance as $1000, may be negotiated down to $250 cash because typically the insurers pay $150 under medical repricing contracts with the clinics and hospitals.

    When ( Mind you I don’t advocate this) the Libertarians and Tea Partiers eventually wake up and realize how the Financial sector has been milking the economy dry, how corruption in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are endangering our lives, they may think it a good idea to declare open season on “Captains of industry” and use “Stand your ground” laws as legal justification.

    Of course, as in “Atlas Shrugged”, by that time they will have found their “Galt’s Gulch” and will havwe left us. If any Randian Makers are reading this I suggest they move to this location: 51° 24′ 33.22" N, 30° 20′ 59.44" E

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Niklaus: I mapped this on Google. I didn’t realize you could just plug in coordinates on the globe like that. I’ve never been to that place . . .

    • Niklaus Pfirsig says:

      It seems I missed the mark by a few miles. It should be:
      51° 24' 18.47″ N, 30° 03' 28.66″ E

      When you google this, turn on the satelite view, zoom out a bit look at some of the photos

  2. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ committee about international health care alternatives revealed that no other countries are abandoning their systems to adopt the American way. How can 330,000,000 people end up with such a terrible solution?

  3. Tim Hogan says:

    Erich, If you are buying policies on Healthcare.gov, you may not be looking everywhere there’s insurance available. You only have to use the exchange if you want to see if you qualify for any subsidies (which can be available for a family of four making up to some $80K or more). .

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/02/business/newly-insured-but-not-counted-by-the-insurance-exchanges.html?ref=healthcarereform

    • Edgar Montrose says:

      Amen to that. The policies available to me through the Exchange were priced about double what I pay for similar coverage on the open market, through Anthem BCBS. I suppose they expect that most people on the Exchange will be subsidized, but I did not qualify for any subsidies.

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