No matter which side of the political debate you are on, you should be informed as to what “Obama Care” means, and the most common myths out there.
Lets start with this: In 2006, Governor Mitt Romney and the legislature enacted a landmark law that expanded Medicaid eligibility for low-income residents, provided subsidies to make insurance more affordable for those with moderate incomes, and created a health insurance exchange to help individuals with moderate or higher incomes and small businesses to purchase private insurance. The law included financial penalties for individuals who can afford coverage but do not obtain it and for medium and large employers that do not offer insurance. As the proportion of non elderly Americans without health insurance rose nationally from 17.1% in 2006 to 18.4% in 2010, Massachusetts countered this trend, as its proportion of uninsured residents decreased from 10.9% to 6.3%.1 In 2010, central elements of this Massachusetts law were incorporated in the federal Affordable Care Act. (from the New England Journal of Medicine)
Myth 1- No one in Congress read the law, they voted on it the day that it was given to them.
FALSE: All ten sections of the Affordable Health Care Act underwent extensive committee hearings with input from the major health care groups and various lobbiests. The last section of the act was added five months before the final act was voted upon. The grain of truth is that the final bill, in its final form – which is for signature, is given to Congress the day they vote on the bill. This is true with every single bit of legislation that Congress passes. The day that it was voted upon, The American Medical Association, as well as The American College of Surgeons endorsed it.
There was plenty of time for most individuals to read it, hear about it, and digest it.
Myth 2 – It will bring in tens of thousands of people to the healthcare system without adding a doctor
FALSE: These individuals are already in the healthcare system. They still get sick, see doctors, go to the emergency room, but do not have insurance. The physicians who take care of these people are already in place and have been taking care of them. The Act does not increase physicians, this is true- and the number of specialists has gone down in this country for a number of years, with increased waiting times for many people, especially in rural areas.
Myth 3 – This is a take over of the health care industry, one sixth of the economy.
FALSE: Currently Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs pay for slightly less than half of American health care. Private health insurance pays for about one third of health care costs, and that insurance is highly regulated at the state level, in addition it is subsidized with tax incentives. What part of the insurance isn’t getting tax incentives? The individual purchasing insurance – and if you have a pre-existing condition the costs are through the roof. In addition, those policies tend to drop people when they become ill. These are the policies that have had large policy increases – and it is this part that the Health Care Act seeks to regulate by: (a) getting rid of pre-existing clauses (b) Allowing children to remain on their parents insurance policies (c) Getting rid of life-time caps of health care costs and enlarging the pool of uninsured to bring down costs. Not certain that this is a problem – are you?
Myth 4 – This will increase the cost of medical care
FALSE: The non-partisan Congressional Budget office predicts otherwise. While health care spending will increase by 1 per cent it will add 34 million Americans to obtain insurance. Savings occur because you remove the added burden of hospitals and physicians who pay for those who have no insurance. The largest source of bankruptcy even in the last recession, were from health care costs. In the second decade after this begins there will be more savings.
Myth 5 – It will force small business to purchase insurance
FALSE: Companies that have over 50 people will be required to purchase insurance for their employees at no more than 9.5% of their salary. In addition, there is a tax incentive for this to employers. Small business, less than 50, have no government obligation to pay for this.
MYTH 6 – the IRS is getting new agents to enforce OBAMA care
FALSE: In 2014 Americans (except Native Americans, Inmates or those with religious objections) will be required to have health insurance or pay an annual penalty. True. However, the law prevents the IRS from using levies, liens or seizing property. Additionally, the IRS cannot impose criminal penalties (such as time in jail).
If you do not purchase health care insurance you are just simply an idiot. Your health care will cost others, not just you. Can you pay for 3 days in the ICU, or for heart surgery, or if you get a burn? Some can, most cannot – because this often comes with time off work – a lot of time off work. This means you may lose your job, end up on state funded health care, or declare bankruptcy, and pass the cost of your health care onto everyone else.
Those are the myths, but as a surgeon who has spent a lot of time taking care of people who have no insurance, I’ve seen the devastation of disease that could have been taken care of sooner, with less complications, and easier. Like the mother who waited too long to have the blood in her stool worked up- only to discover it was a cancer that could have been taken care of years before with a simple polyp removal, and now facing major surgery and chemotherapy and a 12 percent chance of dying from the cancer. My choice would have been for Medicare to cover all individuals in the US.
Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and received his MD. Dr. Simpson, then became a renowned weight loss surgeon, and a leading advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he advocates teaching people to improve their health through their food. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcom Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit www.terrysimpson.com.