The new Obamacare laws are already causing problems for millions of Americans, but there are steps Americans can take to protect their health-care quality from getting even worse, according to one of Obamacare's most outspoken critics, Betsy McCaughey.
In a radio interview with WND, McCaughey scolded several Republican governors for agreeing to expand Medicaid in exchange for promises that the federal government will pick up the entire cost of expansion at first and 90 percent of it in perpetuity.
McCaughey served as lieutenant governor in New York during Gov. George Pataki's first term in the mid-1990s and is author of "Beating Obamacare: Your Handbook for Surviving the New Health Care Law."
In addition to the overall costs already far exceeding original projections, McCaughey said millions are or are about to feel the problems on a very personal level.
"Americans are already getting clobbered by some of the unexpected consequences of this law. For example, most people get their coverage on a job, theirs or their spouse's, and many of them are already being told that their employer is dropping coverage next January," McCaughey said. "Next year, about eight million people could lose their coverage, but, in fact, others like McKinsey & Company management consultants have estimated that as many as a third of employees could be dropped by their employers."
For those who lose their employer-based coverage, McCaughey said the remaining insurance options are not very appealing.
"Either they go on Medicaid, or, if they earn too much for that, they'll be shopping the exchange," said McCaughey, who noted that the exchanges are billed as offering all kinds of choice, but the plans are all the same and they all carry a big price tag.
"The only thing the exchanges are going to be selling is the government-mandates essential benefits package. So no matter what brand name it has, Aetna, Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, it's going to be the same one-size-fits-all health plan," McCaughey said. "It will be very expensive. According to the IRS, the cheapeast 'bronze' plan for a family of three kids will cost $20,000. That's $20,000 for the premium, but you'll still have about 40 percent of your health bills to pay out-of-pocket.
"And don't be bamboozled when you hear these words bronze, silver, gold or platinum. Despite those fancy sounding names, those plans will all be the essential benefits package. Only the copays and deductibles will be different. If you pay up for platinum, you'll have a smaller co-pay when you go to the doctor," she said.
The Obama administration contends that new laws have resulted in smaller annual increases in premiums, a claim McCaughey finds "preposterous."
"Health-care spending was rising very slowly when the Obama health law was passed," said McCaughey, noting that the 3.9 to 4 percent increases pre-Obamacare were the slowest in more than 50 years.
"Now you will see premiums rising very, very quickly, and it's a simple reason. There is no tooth fairy when the law requires insurers to cover much more," she said, pointing to mandates allowing young adults to stay on their parents' policies until age 26, a new list of mandatory covered screenings and comprehensive contraception coverage.
"Once insurance companies have to cover all of that in a policy, what they're really doing is forcing the public to pay for all of that in a policy. In other words, pay a lot more for your insurance," she said.
McCaughey said there are concrete steps Americans can take now both to guarantee access to quality doctors when they get older and to protect their personal information from the eyes of Uncle Sam.
"If you're accustomed to telling your doctor things you wouldn't tell anyone else, now is the time to really talk to your doctor about keeping two sets of books. Once the doctor is compelled under the law to enter your treatments in an electronic, interoperative database, you can bet that thousands of people will be seeing your information," said McCaughey, who adds that federal authorities would likely review those records as part of a federal firearms background check if the president gets that part of his gun agenda approved.
She also urged Americans approaching the age of Medicare eligibility to find really good doctors now.
"If you're a baby boomer, line up your doctors now, your internist, your cardiologist. If you wait until you're 65 and go on Medicare, you will not be able to find a doctor willing to take you on as a patient," she said.
Even if seniors can find good doctors willing to see them, there are financial factors that McCaughey warned could severely limit the quality of care.
"There are some provisions of this law that are really quite frightening. For example, Section 3000 A, which awards bonus points to hospitals that spend the least per senior," she said. "Imagine that. I wouldn't take my dog to the vet that spent the least per animal. Why would I take my mother to the hospital that spends the least per senior?"
McCaughey is also shaking her head at the recent parade of Republican governors in swing states who are agreeing to the expansion of Medicaid in exchange for assurances that the federal government will pick all of the bill through 2016 and the vast majority of the additional costs after that.
"They're doing it because, for most politicians, Medicaid is a verb. It means spend, spend, spend and then hope that the federal government will pick up the tab. They have bought into the idea that the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs of expansion for the first three years and then 90 percent afterward," McCaughey said.
"They are lining their states up to be bankrupt in the future because the federal government usually breaks promises. Once the federal government bamboozles these states into expanding their enrollment and also loosening their eligibility standards and really enriching the benefits, then the federal government can break the promise of paying for it and the states will literally be facing bankruptcy. They won't have enough money to fund their schools, their highways, their law enforcement because so much money will be going to expand Medicaid."