Obamacare Puts Killer Burden on Nurses, ER Doctors … and You
One of the stated goals of Obamacare is to switch the focus of the health care system to prevention. Treatment would become a secondary goal for when prevention fails.
But every law has unintended consequences.
I support the idea of preventative health care. But I’m no fan of Obamacare. I prefer a free market approach.
Under Obamacare, the transition to a prevention-centric system may actually be hurting the level of care that patients receive.
The problem comes down to sheer numbers.
A Glut of New Patients
Millions of people lost their health insurance when Obamacare took effect.
At the same time, millions of people who could not afford the cost of health insurance before are able to buy coverage now. This is largely because of government subsidies.
Changes in how insurance companies handle pre-existing conditions are also having an impact on the number of Americans who have coverage.
Today, I want to focus on the problems with getting actual care under Obama’s new law.
First, more people are entering the health care system. This is a good thing for those individuals who didn’t have coverage before.But the influx of new patients is putting a strain on the medical system. And it may compromise the overall quality of care that patients receive across the board.
Doctors and nurses are already stretched thin. The average doctor’s visit already only lasts about 15 minutes… and many hospitals are in the process of further cutting nursing staff to save on costs.
If we add more patients to the system without adding more health care professionals, that will mean even shorter doctor visits and less attention from nurses.
Many of the new patients who have entered the health care system under Obamacare have complex medical conditions. And they’re unfamiliar with how to manage their conditions. So, they’re going to need more time from medical staff to teach them how to care for themselves.
That means less time for savvier patients who have been making it a point to see their doctor regularly for years.
What Should You Expect?
For the next decade or so, expect longer wait times, shorter visits with your doctor, and more medical errors.
This problem will persist until the number of doctors and nurses can be balanced against the increase in patients. That could take a while. It takes years to become a doctor. It doesn’t take any time at all to become a patient.
It’s a good thing that people who have avoided the medical system in the past are now getting the care they need. But it’s unfortunate that the designers of Obamacare didn’t anticipate the problems this influx of new patients will trigger.
If You Thought Your Wait at the ER Was Long Before…
One of the arguments for Obamacare was that by expanding Medicaid and covering more people through that system, it would take the burden off of emergency rooms. ER care is more expensive than care that is managed through a primary physician. But the uninsured often rely on the ER in place of family doctors. If they can’t pay, then taxpayers foot the bill.
Unfortunately, this argument won’t work out as promised.
In states that had expanded Medicaid coverage before Obamacare, ER visits actually increased. Medicaid patients use ER care more than anyone else… even those who are uninsured.
According to 97% of ER doctors, a lack of insurance isn’t the problem. Insured patients who can’t find doctors are the ones crowding emergency rooms because they don’t know where else to go.
Obamacare will make the situation in ERs around the nation worse, not better.
The Costs You Can’t Measure
Meanwhile, expect more family physicians to close shop. And fewer new doctors to enter the field. Obamacare will cause higher costs and lower payouts. This makes the stress that goes with being a doctor less attractive.
In some regions where the cost of living is high, it makes the financial situation for doctors all but impossible.
With fewer doctors, costs will go up. And more people will turn to emergency room care.
Whether individuals pay these higher costs or taxpayers bear them… either way it will be heavy burden for the country.
There also costs you can’t measure. Georgia representative Tom Price summed it up like this: “There will be limitations on medications that will be available, and shortages of medications through the FDA … Surgeries will have to be postponed because of a lack of medications needed to put patients to sleep, damaging the quality of the care that is received.“
A Good Defense Is Your Best Offense
Protecting yourself from the unpredictable costs and consequences of Obamacare is difficult. The effects are so wide reaching that it’s impossible to avoid them completely.
But you can take positive action.
My first recommendation is, if you don’t have a family doctor that you see on a regular basis, find one now while doctors are still taking new patients. Consider looking into alternatives like naturopathic doctors and concierge medicine. You may find a higher quality of care that is more affordable.
P.S. Drug-resistant outbreaks are on the rise. The scary truth is the drugs we rely on to treat infections are quickly becoming useless. Doctors and hospitals are helpless to treat drug-resistant strains of MRSA, gonorrhea, C. Diff., and more.
You don’t have to be helpless. You can survive the post-antibiotic era.