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Susan Estrich
4 Apr 2014
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2 Apr 2014
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28 Mar 2014
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Obamacare, Part Two

Comment

As I walked into the pharmacy, the technician who has kept track of all of my prescriptions for years was on an endless call trying to figure out who is going to deliver her baby and where.

The good news: Her new plan, which fully complies with the Affordable Care Act, provides much more comprehensive coverage and lower co-pays than the one she used to have.

The bad news: Neither the obstetrician who has taken care of her for the past six months nor the hospital where she had planned to give birth are covered by the plan.

Ouch.

Now, this young woman is really good at dealing with insurance companies. It's what she does all day long — getting prescriptions approved, figuring out why they aren't being approved, going back and forth with doctors and insurance companies about what they will and will not cover. No neophyte, she.

And as I signaled her that I could wait, that she should finish her conversation, she never lost her cool. Me, I would have been a wreck if someone had told me six months into a pregnancy that the doctor with whom I had developed a close and trusting relationship or the hospital that I had always relied on were no longer on my list, and that my choices — within any reasonable geographic distance — basically came down to six doctors I'd never heard of and a hospital I'd never set foot in.

She was not a wreck. But she wasn't happy. Who would be? Six months pregnant and interviewing doctors who are themselves overwhelmed because they are, in fact, on so many plans.

Now that the website is working and the administration is taking credit for hitting its sign-up goal and former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (who is hardly the only one at fault for all the "hiccups" or "potholes" or just plain mistakes along the way) has taken her leave, now the hard part starts.

Exactly what kind of care are people going to receive under the Affordable Care Act? And who is going to provide it?

Who knows? Certainly not most of the doctors I talk to.

I walked into one practice last week that has four doctors, and there was a big sign at the front about which doctor you could see based on which plan you are on.

Not surprisingly, the most senior doctor was only seeing Medicare patients and people like me, with pre-existing, employer-provided, expensive group plans.

I walked into another practice, and the rule was basically pay as you go. No lines there.

At the hospital where I get tests, there was a big sign advising patients to call a toll-free number to find out whether the plans they are considering would allow them to continue using the hospital. The short answer is that many of them don't.

Welcome to the shakedown period. Welcome to the host of problems that need to be fixed.

While Republicans keep railing against Obamacare, the reality is that it's not going to be repealed, at least not as long as Barack Obama is in the White House. And if you ask me, not afterward, either.

I don't know anyone with a 20-something-year-old on their plan (which you couldn't do before) or with a pre-existing condition (And who, after a certain age, doesn't have some pre-existing condition?) who is yearning to go back to the bad old days when gastritis, not to mention heart disease or cancer, could make you uninsurable. There are many features of the new system that most of us would agree are better than those of the old one.

But not all. The business of what doctors you can see, what hospitals you can use — very big problem. The waiting lines for doctors who accept all kinds of plans — very big problem. The confusion and expense of having a "new" plan that costs more because it covers services you don't need and at the same time forces you to leave the doctors who know you — not so good.

"Mend it, don't end it" used to be the Clinton administration's slogan about affirmative action.

Obamacare should not be repealed, and it won't be. But it needs to be fixed, and that's not a problem the IT guys and girls can solve. So fasten your seatbelts. We're in for some rocky times, and the politicians and leaders who focus on trying to solve the problems, rather than trying to score points off of them, are the ones who deserve our support.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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Comments

11 Comments | Post Comment

President Obama, the IRS Obamacare tax collectors, and anyone that supports Obamacare can kiss my azz.

Comment: #1
Posted by: SusansMirror
Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:38 PM
The lack of common sense in regard to this bill is mind-blowingly insane. Even the most hardcore liberals admit that this law is deeply flawed at its core, yet they still want to follow it though. For every skin deep pro about the ACA, there are a dozen terrible, deeply embedded cons. This bill is a scam. It is not even progressive. Its corperatist. Its written by insurance companies, for insurance companies.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Tue Apr 15, 2014 8:45 PM
Susan or anyone who supports Obamacare can you name one founding father who would have supported this much government intrusion in our lives? The American character trait is one of self reliance , neighbor helping neighbor not asking the goverment for help. The mere fact that you ask the government for help is un-American and if you are un-American you do not deserve our help.
Comment: #3
Posted by: William Tell
Tue Apr 15, 2014 9:42 PM
Remember "Death Panels"? They are where they have always been: with the insurance companies.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Paul M. Petkovsek
Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:36 AM
And who could forget the selling points (1) If you like your healthcare provider you can keep it period. False.
(2) If you like your doctor you will keep your doctor. False. (3) The average healthcare premium for a family will decrease by $2500 per year. Guess what? Also utterly false.

Healthcare premiums in 2014 as a direct result of Obamacare have risen across the whole of the United States by record amounts. PA by 28%, Delaware by 100%, Florida by 37%, California by 53% and more increases expected next year. And for what? Lesser coverage, with higher deductables, limited choice of hospitals and or doctors or both, many fewer previously uninsured now insured, the friendly IRS looking over one's healthcare affairs, increased healthcare rationing. In short for a complete and total redistributionist debacle that will cripple America and increase unemployment.

All brought to you by the Democratic Party and it alone. Remember in November.
Comment: #5
Posted by: joseph wright
Wed Apr 16, 2014 4:32 AM
PS. Error correction.

The above should read "many fewer than expected previously uninsured now allegedly insured"
Comment: #6
Posted by: joseph wright
Wed Apr 16, 2014 4:35 AM
The ACA is a corrupt law rotten to the core. It can't be 'cleaned up'; it has to be repealed.Don't forget why it was passed by the Dems - better health care, cheaper (affordable) and 'everyone covered (even illegals)'. It doesn't meet any of the goals!
Comment: #7
Posted by: Oldtimer
Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:04 AM
There is such a thing as bad law and Obamacare is very, very, bad law. It should never have been passed as it exists and definitely can't be fixed.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Oldtimer
Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:43 AM
In 1933 the German people passed a new law called "A Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich". Sounds great - right?
In 2010 the Americans people passed a new law called "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act"'. Sounds great - right?
Comment: #9
Posted by: Oldtimer
Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:11 AM
Re: Oldtimer

It is a corrupt law, written by corrupt people, passed by a corrupt Democratic Party, signed into law by a thoroughly corrupt POTUS, wrongfully found constitutional by a craven coward named Roberts and administered by complete incompetents. What could possibly go wrong?
Comment: #10
Posted by: joseph wright
Wed Apr 16, 2014 11:02 AM
In her Op_Ed, Ms. Estrich noted the following minor problems:
"I would have been a wreck if someone had told me six months into a pregnancy that... my choices within any reasonable geographic distance basically came down to six doctors I'd never heard of and a hospital I'd never set foot in. ...she was not a wreck. But she wasn't happy..."

"...At the hospital where I get tests, there was a big sign advising patients to call a toll-free number to find out whether the plans they are considering would allow them to continue using the hospital. The short answer is that many of them don't."

"...Exactly what kind of care are people going to receive under the Affordable Care Act? And who is going to provide it?...Who knows? Certainly not most of the doctors I talk to."

Then Ms. Estrich concludes: "Obamacare should not be repealed, and it won't be. But it needs to be fixed, and that's not a problem the IT guys and girls can solve. So fasten your seatbelts. We're in for some rocky times..."

Ms. Estrich may or may not be correct about Obamacare being repealed. But given the deep and pervasive nature of the problems it has created, I think we can all agree that a lot of the effected individuals have learned a valuable lesson about voting 'Progressive'. ObamaCare (The gift that keeps on giving) has taught another generation why a sensible individual does not vote Democratic. The Liberal mantra that big government can produce big benefits for individuals in a competent and economical manner has been completely refuted by the people who believed it the most. Yes, the Dems need to fasten their seatbelts. They are in for a very rough ride.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Old Navy
Wed Apr 16, 2014 11:33 AM
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