NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

ObamaCare Will Clog System

October 20, 2010

The new health care law mandates and extends the kind of insurance that breeds overuse, thereby driving up costs and premiums.  The medical system is about to be overwhelmed because there are no disincentives for overuse, says Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Medical Center.

  • Where will patients with new Medicaid cards who can't find a doctor go? Emergency rooms.
  • The escalating costs of these ER visits (necessary and unnecessary) will be transferred directly to the American public, both in the form of taxes as well as escalating insurance premiums.
  • The new Independent Payment Advisory Board -- established by the health reform law to "recommend proposals to limit Medicare spending growth" -- will advise Medicare that some treatments are more essential and more cost-effective than others; value judgments inevitably will have to be made, reducing options for physicians.
  • More expensive chemotherapies and cardiac stents or transplants, for instance, will have a tougher time being approved, as is already the case in Canada.

None of this is terribly surprising.  Imagine if your car insurance covered every scratch or dent.  Wouldn't you expect your premiums to rise to meet the expanded coverage?  And wouldn't you expect your auto repair shops to become clogged with cars that didn't really need to be repaired, competing for time and space with other cars with broken transmissions or burnt-out motors?

If we want lower insurance premiums, we will need to return to a system that favors high deductible, high copay, catastrophic-type insurance with a built-in disincentive for overuse.  Patients could pay for office visits from health savings accounts or other flexible spending tax shelters, says Siegel.

Source: Marc Siegel, "ObamaCare Will Clog System," USA Today, October 19, 2010.

For text:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2010-10-19-column19_ST_N.htm

 

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