More for the “Even Worse Than We Thought” File

by Little Miss Attila on March 21, 2010

This is from The Anchoress; it was reprinted at Deacon Greg’s site, from a physician who is apparently anonymous:

I have been a doctor for 19 years. 4 years in the Army and 15 years in private practice. I belong to a doctor owned group of approx 350 doctors in a multi-specialty practice. We employ 4000 people. In addition to being touted as one of the very best clinics in the nation (Acclaim Award winners) we have donated over a million dollars to the local city in grants, scholarships and charity. Regularly voted as top places to work by our employees. US healthcare at its very best. I am very proud of what we do and we provide tremendous care and value to our patients.

We seek to maintain a 3-5% profit margin annually. We operate in the very precarious business model of enormous volume, low margin. As any business owner knows, this is high-risk-low-margin of error model. Consequently any small changes to cash flow vectors, mandates widespread internal policy and practice corrections. Tiny changes = massive consequences.

As many people may know, Medicare and Medicaid, the current government paid ‘insurer’ – pays approximately 70% of the cost of care. ie its more expensive for doctors to care for these patients than we get reimbursed for. Say you are a contractor. Imagine the government mandating a significant number of your jobs whereby your out of pocket costs are ~ 30% + greater than your income. That is Medicare and Medicaid. In perspective, our group alone, year 2008 lost ~$12 million caring for our government patients. This is despite taking over 1 1/2 years to help move our fee-for-service traditional Medicare patients over to Medicare Advantage plans, which are privatized versions of Medicare that reimburse better…still not covering costs…but lessen our losses significantly.

Many people ask, why do private health insurance premiums continue to escalate? The liberals want you to believe its a combination of profiteering and waste. When in fact its due mainly to two other processes. The first is obvious: every year it costs more to care for patients and premiums are trying to keep up with this rising cost. But secondly, and less often discussed, is that every year private delivery systems lose more and more money caring for our government patients. Someone has to make up for these losses in order for your hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, pharmacies, group practices to remain solvent and profitable. Every year these delivery systems open their books to the private healthcare insurers – and the insurers must – they must in order for the entire system at large to stay functional, increase the amount they pay out to cover these losses. If they dont, both the delivery systems and the insurers die. So to keep the boat afloat, the payouts by private insurers MUST increase to subsidize the ever increasing losses doctors incur by taking care of our government patients. So, in a way, you could say that your increasing premiums are a tax that you are paying to cover the losses that are Medicare and Medicaid. It’s a clear and inarguable private subsidation of government cost. Enough said on that.

So to really feel the consequence and full impact of Obamacare, one must simply see the economic dominos. Most people can see how this bill will rapidly reduce private insurance plans and rapidly expand government plan patients. And take whatever number that is being reported, and multiply that by 3. That has been the experience in both Mass and Hawaii. Both government plans were overwhelmed with the enrollees as they significantly underestimated the government migration.

Ok, so now- how can anyone not see the obvious outcome? Government patients = significant loss of profitability. Initially the private insurers will do their best to continue to subsidize this loss, and there will be a huge escalation of premiums. But within a few months this will be unsustainable. Its a cycle that cannot be stopped. Higher premiums = higher recidivism to government plans = higher premiums etc. Within months, every single hospital, every single doctor office, clinic, nursing home, pharmacy – every delivery system reliant on private insurers will no longer be profitable. ie they will go bankrupt. These will most certainly be the headlines to come: Hospital XYZ shockingly announces bankruptcy; Hospitals can no longer remain open; Clinics across the country file for bankruptcy; Loss of Pharmacy access shocks the Nation; Doctors going bankrupt en masse creating healthcare delivery and access to care crises; Where can you go to get care?; Loss of access reported Nationwide

Yes a crises. A crises of access due to widespread business failure. You will not be able to get care for as long as it takes for the government to devise their emergency bailout package and as long as it takes for those insufficient dollars to try and get those doors back open again. But it will be too late, and it will be too expensive. There is absolutely no way that our government can capitalize our entire healthcare system. Try as they might, only a percentage of what we have now will ultimately survive. And those that do survive will be a shell of what they once were. The conditions will be frightening, and the consequences will be dire. The degree of disarray will be unimaginable and the underlap in access to care will be gaping.

I will not expand this discussion to predict what this means to our economy at large because I am not an economist. But anyone can be close to predicting what I am suggesting. Factors such as loss of work hours due to illnesses not treated, pressure on all the other private business models; let alone the out and out loss of enormous capital via the bankruptcy of this entire healthcare industry can clearly be the death nail to our country and imo is a clear and present threat to our very sovereignty. This can make the housing collapse look like a speed bump. This will be massive and rapid and lethal and complete.

I am not certain why this very obvious outcome has not been openly discussed more often – ie the rapid and massive bankruptcy of all of your health care providers and their delivery systems. But this is the inevitable outcome should this bill ever become law and implemented.

Thanks for reading. Please ping, copy and email your friends and try and get this word out. I know it’s a very late hour – but I do think the implementation is not an inevitability as multiple lawsuits may keep it on hold for a while – so public opinion will still be vital for many more months to come.

Unbelievable times. Please do your part and email and make the phone calls. This plea comes an honest and heartfelt love of our country and its citizens, and an honest and heartfelt love of my profession, avocation and the welfare of my patients.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe March 22, 2010 at 5:53 am

Who do we blame for last night? Well George W. Bush, of course:

The question conservatives should be asking though, is how did we get in this position in the first place? How come, over the course of two elections, Democrats were able to take back the White House and amass substantial majorities in both chambers of Congress, allowing them to enact this sweeping legislation with no Republican votes – and huge defections in their own party? How could a generally right-of-center nation be taken over by liberals from Chicago and San Francisco?
The answer, of course, is that none of this would have been possible without George W. Bush — or more broadly speaking, Bush era Republicanism. While they were in power, Republicans squandered an opportunity to push free market health care solutions. When they did use their power to pass major legislation, it was for policies like the big government Medicare prescription drug plan, which was (until today) the largest expansion of entitlements since the Great Society. They took earmarks and doled out farm and energy subsidies. They earned a reputation for fiscal recklessness and corruption and incompetent governance. President Obama ultimately forced through the health care bill in spite of the political consequences to his party because he’s ultimately a true believing liberal. But it was only because of the failures of Bush-era Republicanism that an ideological liberal with little experience was able to capture the presidency on the abstract notion of change.
Today will be largely remembered as the biggest legislative victory for liberals since Medicare in 1965. But it should also be remembered as the day that Bush cemented his legacy as one of the most destructive presidents for advocates of limited government.

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Mark @ Israel March 23, 2010 at 3:55 am

I hope many people will be able to read this especially those legislators who voted for the passage of the health care bill. I hope their minds will be enlightened. And I just hope the passage of this bill can be stopped.

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