Dr. Manny: What Obama’s health care speech really means to doctors

After watching President Obama’s speech Thursday regarding the Supreme Court’s decision on health care, I have to respectfully disagree with much of what he said – not because of my political ideologies, but rather because of my viewpoint as a pragmatic individual who works in the health care field.

One of the main points the president made in his statement was that if you have insurance, you will be able to keep your insurance.  While this is theoretically true, the reality is that costs will rise.  Because of this, many families will have to change their insurance in order to find the best bargain.  That’s a reality that already happens today.  And when you change your insurance to the most affordable option, you often have to change doctors as well.

Another point the president brought up is how you will not be dropped if you have a pre-existing health condition.  This is also true, but what may end up happening is that insurance providers may limit the services they cover concerning those pre-existing condition.

Obama also talked about how important preventive care will be – how all mammograms will be covered by insurance, for example.  That’s good, but take into account how often the government’s medical task forces change screening recommendations and guidelines, confusing the public as to when these should be done. So if you’re 40 years old, and the federal government decides you should get mammograms done starting at age 50, guess you’re not going to get it.

Young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ health plan, the president said.  Good.  Great -- but at the end of the day young adults use a very small percentage of health care dollars a year.

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On the prescription side, seniors will be able to get discounts on the medications they need.  Well, seniors get those discounts nowadays anyway, and a major concern is that we’re seeing more and more shortages of medication in the U.S. than ever before in our country’s history.  Now, with even more people insured, it’s likely the problem will be even more compounded, and of course, the reform doesn’t address that issue.

Finally, Obama addressed the 30 million uninsured people that utilize emergency services and how we’ll pay for them with higher premiums in our own insurance.  That’s partially true, but he failed to mention how all hospitals across the country take a major financial blow on bad debt that the federal government does not reimburse to hospitals or physicians for charity care.  This leads to hospitals declaring bankruptcy, health care professionals being laid off, and even the decimation of community hospitals in the U.S.