The Affordable Care Act and the Unaffordability

By on 06/02/2015 in Blog, Healthcare, In The News

The affordable care act, or ACA, was promoted with claims of increased insurance coverage to those who could not afford it, and also containing the dramatic rise in healthcare cost. Unfortunately, and not unexpectedly, it has done neither. There are a couple of points in the ACA that everyone would agree with, Republican, Democrat, and Independent. Those issues are increasing availability of coverage to those truly in need, and containing pre-existing denial of insurance. In reality, although there are some truly needy people who now have insurance that did not before, much of the increased coverage are for people who lost their prior coverage and had to go through the ACA, and also people who are using subsidies because they previously just didn't want to spend their money on healthcare insurance. The truth is that healthcare costs are skyrocketing, and the ACA is contributing to rising insurance premiums. Examples are the rising insurance premiums through the ACA, rising costs from major hospital systems, and the incredible rise in costs of generic and brand name drugs. The ACA, prior to being signed, underwent negotiations between the White House and the major hospital lobby. In exchange for their support of the legislation, their profits would rise, and they have. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/02/business/medicare-payments-billing-hospitals-doctors.html?_r=0 The rise in insurance premiums are contrary to what the American public was told would happen. It was stated that insurance premiums would level out or decrease because more people would be paying premiums. The insurance companies continue a relentless increase in premiums despite increasing profits. See this article about Chicago, which applies to the rest of the country: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-obamacare-insurance-rates-20150601-story.html Regarding drug and pharmaceutical costs, I have seen an unprecedented rise in the cost of medications I use in surgery. Some medication costs have risen hundreds of dollars per vial. The pharmaceutical companies claim that there have been shortages, manufacturing problems, etc, and the FDA has gone along with this. The truth is, that although some of these problems have occurred, they are being used to hold the medical community hostage and to raise drug prices. There have been dangerous shortages and unavailability of many generic drugs, with subsequent huge price increases. Now, I have no problem with a company making a good profit, and even reasonably raising the cost of a generic medication if the current cost is too low to justify manufacturing it. What is interesting to note, however, is that the claims of shortages and manufacturing issues only seem to occur with low cost/ low profit medications. The availability of brand-name medications that are still under patent, and sometimes cost hundreds, or even thousands of dollars, are readily, and easily available. Surprised? The ACA and all of the boondoggles that were inserted into the legislation needs to be dismantled. A new healthcare act needs to be developed that maintains affordability and puts an end to the monopolization of medicine by some large corporate hospital systems and pharmaceutical manufacturers, yet maintains the good parts, which are access to insurance by anyone desiring to purchase it, and removal of preexisting deniability.