Not What the Doctor Ordered
Download the key facts here (PDF).
Imagine going to the doctor for a chronic headache and frequent blackouts. The doctor tells you to see a specialist – who you can't see for another 17 weeks. After seeing the specialist, you must wait 4 weeks for an MRI. Finally, doctors discover a cyst in your brain, but the treatment you need isn't approved because, according to government, your condition isn't serious enough yet. Now you have no option other than waiting until your pain becomes serious enough for treatment –if you make it that long.
This scenario could become reality under the Kennedy-Dodd health care bill, which would create a federal health insurance plan, eventually driving out private insurers and leaving patients with fewer choices and lower quality of care.
The bill would mandate employers to provide insurance for employees or pay an annual fine ($750 per full-time employee or $350 per parttime employee). This mandate, and a mandate requiring individuals to buy insurance, requires every insurance plan to match "government approved" standards.
With the Kennedy-Dodd bill, over the next ten years, the national deficit would increase by $611.4 billion. That's one cost thrust on taxpayers. But what happens to private insurers, doctors, and families if this bill passes?
Coverage, but no access. Government-run health care creates a shortage of doctors, and patients end up with coverage but lack care. A survey of primary care physicians found 76 percent feel overworked, and 78 percent believe a shortage of doctors exists. If the Kennedy- Dodd bill passed, a shortage of doctors would result – just as in other countries with nationalized health care. Without timely access to care, people could get very sick or, even worse, die waiting to see a doctor.
Rationed care. When government manages health care, rationing results. The United Kingdom's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is essentially a board for rationing health care. It has limited the use of drugs like Aricept during early stages of Alzheimer's, claiming the drug was not "cost effective" at that stage, even though doctors argued Aricept is more effective at that time. The Kennedy-Dodd bill would create similar rationing in America at the expense of patients' lives.
Who decides? At age 19, Katie Brickell's doctor refused to test her for early signs of cervical cancer because she was too young – UK bureaucrats set the minimum age for this test at 25. When she was 23, Katie's doctor diagnosed her with cervical cancer. Tragically, Katie's story demonstrates what happens when bureaucrats make health care decisions: individuals suffer and doctors lose their authority to care for patients.
They mandate. You lose. An estimated 15 million people could lose employer-provided health insurance if the Kennedy-Dodd bill passed. The employer mandates in the Kennedy-Dodd bill would dramatically increase the cost of insurance for employers, and they will choose instead to pay the less expensive government fine for not providing private insurance. Expensive government mandates will prevent some people from keeping the insurance plan they have and like. Furthermore, existing employer mandates, such as those in the state of Hawaii, have not kept costs down.
Rising prices. Government plans pay doctors less than half of what private insurance pays them, which forces doctors to raise prices for other patients. The more people insured by the government plan, the more prices will increase for the privately insured and uninsured. Under the Kennedy-Dodd bill, only the richest could afford private insurance (while it lasts). Government-run health care does not provide a fair playing field for all.
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