If you have a brain tumor, don’t expect Obamacare to improve your financial situation. A 28 year old California woman is experiencing massive sticker shock from Obamacare. Amanda Pratt had five surgeries for a large, benign brain tumor starting in 2011. She now lives with a brain shunt and requires medication, regular MRI’s and doctor visits. However the “Affordable” Care Act is not delivering on its promise to this patient. Even though her health insurance premiums are slightly lower than in the past ($168 per year less) the out of pocket costs are much higher, meaning a higher net cost each year. This will mean a minimum of $2,160 extra per year out of pocket per year for the part time worker*. She is frightened that her doctors may be driven out of business by the low payment to doctors and their high cost of complying with regulations. She is also worried that a large percentage of doctors are currently not even taking the Obamacare insurance offered in California.
Amanda has been told to come back every year to see her neurosurgeon with an MRI. That MRI used to cost her an $800 co-pay. It will now cost $2,200. The co-pays for her doctors’ visit will double from $30 to $60. The co-pays for the medications she requires will triple from $20 to $60 for each medication. To add insult to injury, her full time job was cut to part time due to Obamacare. She points to the well-known trend of businesses cutting employees to less than 30 hour work weeks to avoid the penalties for not providing health insurance. In fact, the CBO confirmed this week that the equivalent of 2.5 million people will be working only part time or not at all to avoid losing their government subsidy check to buy the Obamacare insurance. That will be in addition to the jobs lost from employer actions.
Amanda is not feeling more secure. She was interviewed on the Blaze this week where she stated: “If any of my specialists… decide that being a doctor is no longer profitable, then I’ll lose two guys that I seriously trust, and are very familiar with my not so common case. The thought scares me to death.” Amanda is also “embarrassed” that the media is not covering her story and so many politicians who supported Obamacare are ignoring her.
For people like Amanda Pratt, bankruptcy was not a likely outcome before Obamcare. She had full time work and found a health insurance plan that kept her costs down. Now with the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”, it appears she is less protected from the high costs of health care than ever. This story will become more common and is one reason that even under socialized medicine in Canada, medical bankruptcies were still more common than they ever were in America before the “Affordable Care Act” was passed. Who is more likely to go into debt and go bankrupt: the person with the full time job with a lower cost health insurance coverage or the person with a part time job with higher cost coverage? The answer is clear: Obamacare is a recipe to promote medical bankruptcy.
*With five doctors’ visits a year and monthly refills of one medication only.
Dr. David McKalip, the author of this piece, and founder of Sun Beam Times blog, is a practicing neurological surgeon in St. Petersburg Florida and a recognized leader in medical economics and policy.