One Year Later – Is ObamaCare Making a Difference?

 

The first open enrollment period for ObamaCare ended one year ago. April 1, 2014, began the first day of measuring the effectiveness of ObamaCare.

At the time, President Obama assured the American people by saying, “The Affordable Care Act is here to stay. The bottom line is this: Under this law, the share of Americans with insurance is up, and the growth of health care costs is down. And that’s good for our middle class, and that’s good for our fiscal future. . . . The debate over repealing this law is over.”

One year later it’s a good time to review and see just how effective the law has really been. John Graham of The National Center for Policy Analysis compared the latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with their survey from a decade ago. He summarizes this comparison:

“The proportion of people of all ages with a “usual place to go for medical care” was 87.8 percent last year, the same as it was in 2002-2003. Further, 5.7 percent reported that they failed to obtain needed medical care due to cost last year, the same as it was in 2003-2004.”

No difference! Ten years later and despite spending billions on ObamaCare, there is no difference. Maybe this is just an isolated finding in one study.

Actually it is not. Another study looked at data last year from 16,000 providers across the country, collected by AthenaHealth. This study shows the requests for new appointments just barely edged upward in 2014. The proportion of new patient visits to primary care doctors increased from 22.6 percent in 2013 to 22.9 percent in 2014. See the graph below: (click to enlarge)

 

New patient visits comparison

Further evidence comes from a look at the Massachusetts health reform experience, which was the foundational basis for the architects of ObamaCare. A new study, published in the Boston Medical Journal policy journal, examined hospitalization in Massachusetts for 12 medical conditions that wouldn’t normally require hospitalization if a patient has good access to primary care. These are thought to be a good measure of access to healthcare, according to Danny McCormick of Harvard Medical School, the study’s lead author.

The rates of preventable hospitalizations were practically the same in the first few years of the Massachusetts health reform. Jason Millman, writing in The Washington Post, observed:

The landmark 2006 Massachusetts healthcare law that inspired the federal overhaul didn’t lead to a reduction in unnecessary and costly hospitalizations, and it didn’t make the healthcare system more fair for minority groups.”

More evidence of the failure of ObamaCare comes from a new report from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The report states, “patients with mental illness are no better off under ObamaCare.”

Reasons for ObamaCare Failure

John C. Goodman, writing in Forbes, gives several reasons for the failures of ObamaCare noted above:

  • High deductibles – Although more people have health insurance under ObamaCare, the deductibles they have to pay are so high that most people are paying the full price of the bill out of their own pockets. The average deductible for a bronze plan (least expensive) was $5,081 for an individual and $10,386 for a family. Silver plans had average deductibles of $2,907 for individuals and $6,078 for families. (These are about twice the average deductibles for employer plans.)
  • Medicaid poor access – It is well known that patients with Medicaid coverage have poor access to healthcare because few physicians accept these patients. Over 70 percent of newly enrolled patients in ObamaCare have Medicaid coverage.
  • Narrow networks – By limiting the choice of physicians to narrow networks, insurance companies can lower the cost of premiums. Most ObamaCare plans offered on the exchanges have narrow networks. This has especially limited the choices of patients seeking mental illness treatments.

 

These alarming studies make a strong argument that one year later with ObamaCare we are no better off than we were before. ObamaCare is not working. We need a better alternative – and the sooner the better!

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