EHRs Contributing to the Doctor Shortage

 

Finding it hard to see a doctor lately? It could be because of EHRs.

Electric Health Records (EHRs) have failed to live up to their promised benefits and in fact may be contributing to physician burn-out and early retirement. Twila Brase, author of a book entitled Big Brother in the Exam Room: The Dangerous Truth About Electronic Health Records, explains in an article published by The Hill.

The reason is the intrusion of the laptop computer into your doctor’s exam room. Rather than make eye-contact with you while he questions your latest health concerns, your doctor is probably engrossed in his computer making data entries.

When EHRs were first introduced after the Obama administration made them mandatory (or suffer penalties on your Medicare payments), I attended a medical conference to learn more. At the beginning of the three-hour seminar we were all assured of the following:

  • EHRs would make us more productive
  • EHRs were inexpensive and would pay for themselves
  • EHRs would reduce personnel costs
  • EHRS would reduce medical errors

 

But after the Q & A session that followed the speakers, every one of those claims was proven false. The same speakers who promised these benefits had to admit, upon further questioning, that none of their promises were true!

Time and experience has proven these admissions correct. Here is the reality about EHRs:

  • EHRs reduce productivity – by as much as 50%
  • EHRs increase personnel costs – for data entry clerks
  • EHRs are expensive to implement – and expensive to maintain
  • EHRs do not reduce medical errors – and may actually increase them

 

According to Blasé, studies find deep physician dissatisfaction with the government-certified EHR technology (CEHRT) they’ve been forced to use. The most frequently cited reasons, according to a 2013 survey, are lost productivity due to documentation demands (85 percent) and seeing fewer patients (66 percent). In short, physicians who trained up to 25 years to care for patients have become data entry clerks for government agencies, health plans and the health IT companies that work for them.

In a 2018 survey, 40 percent of physicians said EHRs have more challenges than benefits, and 59 percent said EHRs need a complete overhaul. Patient safety is also a concern. As Modern Healthcare reported in 2015: “In 2012, 5 percent felt that EHRs increased errors versus 12 percent today.”

In 2016, a survey revealed 48% of physicians are considering early retirement or leaving patient care- as a direct result of EHRs. According to a 2018 report by the Association of American Medical Colleges, there will be a doctor shortage of 120,000 by 2030. This is up from last year’s estimate of 88,000 by 2025.

The truth is that EHRs were forced upon the medical profession by government bureaucrats that wanted more control over the decision-making of doctors. This was an insidious step in the process of government take-over of healthcare. Sadly, it has failed to live up to its promises and only exacerbated our growing shortage of physicians.

After all, who wants to spend 25 years in training just to be a data-entry clerk?

ObamaCare Fails to Protect Pre-existing Conditions

 

In my last post, Pre-existing Conditions Latest Victim in War on Truth, I talked about the importance of protecting pre-existing conditions coverage. ObamaCare made an issue of this problem, and rightly so, but it didn’t go far enough.

Democrats are misleading voters by rousing fears that they will lose their pre-existing coverage if ObamaCare is repealed. But the truth is that ObamaCare has failed to adequately protect some people from this devastating problem.

Grace-Marie Turner, writing in Forbes, tells how ObamaCare failed to deliver in producing a sensible and sustainable mechanism to support pre-existing protections. After creating a temporary high risk pool that ended in 2014, it then permanently shoved their extra costs onto other Americans who are now struggling to afford coverage.

She tells the story of a woman, named Janet, who wrote to her about why ObamaCare isn’t working.

Janet reports, “In 1999, I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, which made me ineligible for insurance (denied for pre-existing conditions).  I live in Colorado, and they had a high-risk pool that covered people like me. I applied for that and was accepted.

“My premiums in 2010 were $275/month with a total out of pocket of $2,500.  [While I was on] this plan, my liver failed, and I needed a liver transplant. It was approved without a question.  My $600,000 transplant was covered 100% with a $2,500 out of pocket maximum!”

When Obamacare went into effect, Colorado’s high-risk pool was closed.  “I was forced into the regular marketplace that everyone was telling me was a good thing because I couldn’t get denied.  I think my first year on that policy, my premiums were in the $450 range—which I thought wasn’t too terrible, but still more than I had been paying.

“The thing I noticed from the start was that instead of full coverage, almost everything I needed was denied, which threw me into the world of having to appeal (sometimes several times) to get the basic care I needed.

“Since then, my premiums skyrocketed.  In 2017, I paid $735 a month with total out-of-pocket costs of $5,500.  In 2018, my premiums went up to $1,100 a month with a deductible of $6,300.  Once I hit that mark, I’m covered 80%.

“Further, none of my anti-rejection meds are on the formulary of my insurance. If I could not afford them, my body would most certainly reject my liver, causing another liver transplant that would not be covered 100%.

“I don’t get any credits from the government to reduce my premiums.  Those of us who are self employed but make more than the threshold for tax credits wind up footing the whole bill ourselves.  I have to spend $19,500 before my insurance pays anything, and it doesn’t cover all my prescription costs.  My old plan was almost a third of what I have to pay now.

“I have many friends and work associates in the same boat as me.   Many of them are doing without insurance and are betting that they won’t need more than what they can afford to pay out of pocket.  I cannot do that, because if something happened and I needed another transplant, it would bankrupt my family.

“The system is broken beyond imagination.”

 

Even though Janet has coverage for pre-existing conditions, her access to care is worse and the cost of her coverage is much higher than before ObamaCare. This isn’t the kind of protection we were promised. Republicans are right to want to find a better healthcare system – but they must protect Americans from losing coverage for their pre-existing conditions – and do a better job of that than ObamaCare.

Pre-existing Conditions Latest Victim in War on Truth

 

Most Americans would agree that the best thing about ObamaCare was the elimination of pre-existing conditions as an excuse for denial of healthcare insurance. That may be the only good thing about ObamaCare.

Republicans are just as pleased with reassuring Americans about their pre-existing conditions as Democrats. But Democrats are working hard to convince voters that any attempt to repeal and replace ObamaCare is an attempt to eliminate pre-existing conditions protections.

Karl Rove, writing in The Wall Street Journal, says Democratic mid-term campaign ads are promoting this fiction. One Arizona ad says Martha McSally, the Republican congresswoman running for Senate, “voted to gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions.” Another, in North Dakota, accuses GOP Senate nominee Kevin Kramer of “voting five times to let insurance companies deny coverage to people with conditions like cancer.”

This fiction is being promoted all over the country by Democratic candidates because they recognize this is a hot-button issue. It doesn’t matter that these statements are completely false.

Rove explains: “The pre-existing conditions offensive against the GOP is based on its votes to repeal ObamaCare. But the truth is that Ms. McSally, Mr. Cramer and every Republican in Congress who voted for repeal also voted to require states to provide protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The GOP approach was to let each state figure out how best to accomplish this under a federal system that worked better than the Affordable Care Act. Republicans trusted leaders in state capitals to do better than Washington for the people of their states.

The ObamaCare system of protections for pre-existing conditions also ensured people didn’t have to enroll in healthcare plans until they got sick. Then they could signup for treatment and not be denied coverage. This would be like purchasing fire insurance for your house after the house is on fire! This “gaming of the system” forced other enrollees to pay more for their coverage.

Rove argues that the GOP should tell Americans they can cover their pre-existing conditions without the damage ObamaCare has inflicted. They must convince voters they want to improve the system, not just scrap it. One way to do this would be to require state plans for protection of pre-existing conditions meet certain federal standards.

It’s also important for Republicans to make this issue personal. They have friends and family members who need pre-existing condition coverage, too. Missouri Attorney General and Senate candidate Josh Hawley recently did this in response to attacks by his opponent, Senator Claire McCaskill. He revealed that one of his sons was recently diagnosed with a rare bone disease. He acknowledged that he had joined a lawsuit to declare ObamaCare unconstitutional. But he said that because of his personal experience, “I will never support taking away health insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.”

This issue has raised healthcare to an important subject on the campaign trail even though other issues, like immigration, the environment, and the economy get more attention in the media. Let’s not let misinformation be the deciding factor in this important election.