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By Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D., of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
The March 31 deadline for enrolling in Obamacare looms over the undecided. Millions of Americans have lost their private health insurance policies because they do not comply with the costly, expanded requirements of the new health-care law.
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., asked a poignant question: “Why punish the 85 percent who have earned health-care coverage under their employer to cover the 15 percent who do not?”
But punishment is exactly what Democrats who voted for Obamacare have done.
So now you, as a consumer and patient, face a difficult choice. Enroll or not?
The new policies now offered have fewer choices of doctors and hospitals and cost more for most people. The situation is extremely confusing, but many reasons to avoid the government-run “exchanges” are very clear-cut.
But then deciding not to enroll means you pay a penalty, or tax, as the Supreme Court called it. So what to do?
Here are my top 10 reasons for not enrolling, plus five suggestions for what you might do instead. You weigh the pros and cons, then decide the cost-benefit balance best for you.
1) The Obamacare health insurance policies cost significantly more – likely more than the penalty (tax). Most people can expect to see their premiums double.
2) The Obamacare health-insurance policies limit your choice of doctors.
3) The Obamacare health-insurance policies limit your choice of hospitals. For example, several major state-of-the-art, internationally known cancer treatment centers are excluded.
4) Your out-of-pocket costs will skyrocket, with the new Obamacare health-insurance policies doubling and tripling the deductibles you must pay before coverage will kick in.
5) Your medical privacy is lost when you enroll, and your medical information becomes controlled by government agencies.
6) Your personal financial and health information may be seriously compromised by the security flaws in the Healthcare.gov website.
7) You are at risk of identity theft by providing your personal information to the “Obamacare navigators,” a significant number of whom have been found to have criminal backgrounds.
8) Enrolling in the Obamacare health exchange may lead to compromises of your Second Amendment rights, as medical databases collect information on gun ownership.
9) Obamacare enrollees are finding it difficult or impossible to cancel their plan if they find a better option.
10) Obamacare policies are basically “managed care” with limitations on your options – and financial incentives for your doctor to restrict your care.
If you do not enroll in Obamacare, what options do you have to protect your health and pocketbook? Here are some solutions that put control back in your hands and allow you to decide how to spend your own money for the medical care you choose:
1) Purchase a very high-deductible, catastrophic medical insurance policy.
2) Use the savings in premiums every month to put money into your self-funded “medical expense savings account” that you control. Even if this account is not tax deductible, the fact that you control how you spend the money is what is critical to your health.
3) Consider joining a religious group cost-sharing program. Examples of these are Liberty Healthshare, Christian Care Medishare and Samaritan Ministries.
4) Seek out cash-pay medical practices, imaging centers and hospitals that offer discounts for cash – pay for services you choose, not for insurers’ promises, or denials, which are becoming more and more common.
5) Purchase a high-deductible international health insurance policy that for much lower premiums offers you the option of medical services in lower-cost countries such as Chile, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Singapore, Thailand, India and others.
Abraham Lincoln said: “You can’t make a weak man strong by making a strong man weak.” That is exactly what Obamacare does: It weakens those who take responsibility for their health, forcing them into a one-size-fits-all wealth redistribution scheme that restricts care to government-approved choices at a government-dictated price.
At its core, Obamacare is about controlling you and limiting your choices for medical care and how you spend your money. Obamacare is not about “affordable care” or “patient protection.” When the government controls your health care, the bureaucrats and politicians decide what you get.
My prescription for good health: Take control of your medical care back into your own hands, in partnership with physicians of your choice.
Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D. is a preventive and climacteric medicine specialist with medical practices in Tucson, Ariz., and Dallas, Texas, which take an integrated approach to evaluation and treatment of women and men with complex medical and hormonal problems. Dr. Vliet is also president of International Health Strategies, Ltd., whose mission is twofold: liberty and privacy in treatment options and preservation of the Oath of Hippocrates focus on the individual patient.
Dr. Vliet is the 2007 recipient of the Voice of Women Award from the Arizona Foundation for Women for her pioneering advocacy for the overlooked hormone connections in women’s health. Dr. Vliet received her M.D. degree and internship in internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, then completed specialty training at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Vliet is a former director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.