When Coverage Does Not Equal Care


Getting covered doesn’t mean getting care. Citizens in the UK understand the difference. The lack of accessibility is so rampant, the National Health Service (NHS) Constitution needs to clarify a patient’s right to receive treatment within 18 weeks of a GP referral. NHS deems it acceptable for people to wait over 4 months for medical care.

For Judy in California, today’s Affordable Care Act is becoming tomorrow’s failed NHS.

“I have atrial fibrillation. Since Obamacare has become law, each time I need to schedule an appointment with my cardiologist, the scheduler either tells me the cardiologist’s schedule is not available yet, or they don’t have an available appointment time. I either have to see a physician’s assistant or wait months to see the cardiologist,” stated Judy.

After two years of enduring lack of responses and little help to get an appointment, Judy said, “I finally got the message that they don’t want to accept Medicare patients, and my family doctor pretty much confirmed that is true.”

She is now going to her general practitioner for her heart issues, but even that has changed.

“Nine times out of 10 you will see a physician’s assistant even at my family doctor. He has opened two clinics just to handle the influx of people, and those two clinics, which he used to be at, are now totally run by physician’s assistants,” Judy explained.

Judy’s care has gone from seeing a specialist to mostly being treated by a physician’s assistant, which could be dangerous for someone who had an atrial fibrillation attack two weeks ago. The episode sent her to the emergency room; the most expensive option. Judy’s reduction in care has raised costs to all involved.

“My husband and I have both experienced cost increases in Medicare as well as in our supplemental insurance,” she noted.

As more doctors who are unable to comply with the burdensome regulations exit the medical field, the rising cost and declining care death spiral will only hasten. A recent article by Fox News illustrated that despite measures to limit wait times, NHS’ 65-year-old system continues to fail its citizens.

“At the end of June [2013], the number of people waiting in England to start NHS treatment was 240,000 higher than the same time last year.

NHS England figures for July showed that 508,555 people in London alone were waiting for operations or other treatment to begin — the highest total for at least five years.

Almost 60,000 more patients were waiting for treatment at the capital’s 34 NHS hospitals than one year ago. According to NHS data released in August, hospital waiting lists soared to a five-year high, with almost 2.9 million patients with a known diagnosis in the queue for treatment.

In Wales, the number of patients waiting more than nine months for hospital treatment in November had more than doubled in six months. The Welsh government also reported their NHS is still failing to treat 8 to 13% of the most urgent cancer cases within 62 days – two full months after diagnosis.”

The unsettling reality of government-controlled healthcare is why Judy and so many others believe it must be stopped. “I still have hope that this November will change some things,” she wishfully commented.

Change we can believe in may look more like a recent social media meme. “Want to keep your doctor? Change your senator.”