Answers to questions about Obamacare

Published 2:51 pm Friday, June 18, 2010

It seems that people, those who were in favor and those opposed are beginning to realize that Obamacare is going to have an effect upon almost every citizen in the USA.&bsp; Were also beginning to see that there are a lot of questions about Obamacare, with answers that arent exactly what people were expecting to hear.&bsp; Lets look at just a few major questions, and you can decide if its really good legislation or should be repealed.

Q: Obamacare has been the law for a few months now, so why cant I get my free healthcare services? Not surprisingly, many people thought that with the stroke of a pen, Obama was going to magically create health coverage and availability for everyone, and it would begin immediately.&bsp; Because too many Americans, like most of our politicians, never bothered to read the legislation, they assumed that their medical would be free and it would begin immediately.&bsp; Not true!&bsp; Unless you are financially indigent or qualify for free health care under Medicaid, you will be expected to pay something for your health care insurance coverage.&bsp; Also, that coverage wont even be available until 2014 those two revelations shocked a lot of Americans who thought that Obamacare meant an immediate free lunch at the healthcare buffet.

Q: I dont have health insurance. Will I have to get it, and what happens if I dont?&bsp; Under Obamacare, beginning in 2014, most Americans will be REQUIRED under law to have health insurance or PAY A PENALTY!&bsp; Penalties for individuals failing to acquire health insurance start at $95, or up to 1 percent of income, whichever is greater, and rise to $695, or 2.5 percent of income, by 2016.&bsp; For families the penalty limit is $2,085, but some individuals could be exempted from the insurance requirement because of financial hardship, religious beliefs or if they are American Indians.

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Q: Im over 65. How would the legislation affect seniors? The Medicare prescription-drug benefit will be improved substantially. This year, seniors who enter the Part D coverage gap, known as the doughnut hole, will get $250 to help pay for their medications – at a cost of about $10-billion to cover 40 million seniors.&bsp; Beyond that, drug company-discounts on brand-name drugs and federal subsidies and discounts for all drugs will gradually reduce the gap, eliminating it by 2020. That means that seniors, who now pay 100 percent of their drug costs once they hit the doughnut hole, will pay 25 percent.&bsp; And, as under current law, once seniors spend a certain amount on medications, they would get catastrophic coverage and pay only 5 percent of the cost of their medications.

Also, government payments to Medicare Advantage, the private-plan part of Medicare, will be cut sharply starting in 2011. If youre one of the 10 million enrollees, you could lose extra benefits that many of the plans offer, such as free eyeglasses, hearing aids and gym memberships, or expect your premiums to be raised. Also, beginning this year, the bill will make all Medicare preventive services, such as screenings for colon, prostate and breast cancer, free to beneficiaries.

Q: What the Obamacare legislation didnt consider regarding available doctors.&bsp; In many cities, and particularly in smaller towns and rural areas, emergency rooms have already become the waiting rooms for routine care for millions of Americans because of a shortage of doctors, particularly those caring for our rapidly aging population.&bsp; Under Obamacare, 31-million more people will be added to the roles of the insured, with immediate coverage and access to healthcare benefits that they previously didnt have, and oftentimes did not seek for financial reasons.&bsp; Those patients are going to impact the system, and not a single word was spoken about the lack of doctors today, and the dramatic increase in patient load that many doctors will face as they see their practices flooded with newly insured patients.&bsp; And that doesnt even begin to consider the numbers of doctors who will leave medical practice rather than face either declining incomes, or operating their practices at a financial loss.

Obamacare never addressed the issue of liability, and trial lawyers we will see a dramatic increase in malpractice opportunities as doctors face increased patient loads, decreased time available with each patient, and increased patient outcomes that fail to meet the expectations of the patient or families being served in short time periods by the physicians.

Seniors will face rationing.&bsp; Certain procedures and practices now being provided by physicians to the 85-plus year old seniors our fastest growing population segment will be cut back for two main reasons: 1. Because seniors may refuse or be unable to pay for some of their care as required under Obamacare; and 2. Because of reimbursement cuts to doctors who will begin to see outcome based payments established.&bsp; The return on the dollars invested in older citizens will not justify, under Obamacare, the approval for some of the medical practices now being offered, or the doctors reimbursement will be so low as to not be able to afford to do what can be done.&bsp; Many procedures will be deemed by the Obamacare Review Panels as too costly with too limited a benefit in return, and patients will be denied.&bsp; This is what will become the defacto death panels.

These are just a few of the surprises in the 2700 page law.&bsp; Stay tuned.&bsp; There will be more.

Ron Kauffman is a Certified Senior Advisor, radio talk show host and an expert on issues of aging and caregiving. He is the author of Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimers Disease, available at, where you can also hear his weekly Podcasts. He can be reached at 561-626-4481 or by email at