Letter: ACA not reducing numbers of uninsured

December 3, 2014

A reader says more, not fewer, of his patients are uninsured since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

I recently read in Medical Economics about a survey concerning the decreasing numbers of uninsured people in states with the Obamacare insurance plans.

I practice in a very rural, very poor economic area in eastern Oklahoma (family practice), and over the past couple of years I am seeing drastically more uninsured than I did before, definitely not less. I would estimate the number of uninsured has increased by around ten-fold, almost exclusively due to the fact that insurance for the working people is way too expensive for people here to afford.

I see many uninsured on a daily basis now. And as far as the Affordable Care Act, I am now seeing more bad results, i.e., death and other poor outcomes, due to laws and rules that are requiring more (tremendously more) time to transfer critical patients, obtain “prior authorization” for serious illnesses and to obtain needed meds, etc.

All this takes up a large percentage of my time. There are even times when I am being required to prior authorize meds that are on Wal-Mart’s $4 list-simply because the med isn’t on the insurance company’s formulary.

At least twice recently I’ve spent well over three hours just trying to get a medicine, or sometimes equipment prior authorized for a condition that is critical for the patient, meaning the patient absolutely has to have that medicine-and of course it is usually an expensive med, but not always.

I am not against medical records going electronic either. Unfortunately, the government and insurance companies are now using electronic health records to totally control people, i.e., the patients as well as the doctors. For certain conditions we are being told what medicines to use (or we get “points” against us), what labs to order, and we are held responsible for bad outcomes when patients refuse to take their meds.

There is so much more I could say; unfortunately I do not have that much time, and no one in government cares anyway. It is all about CONTROL, not to mention greed.

When I’m in the exam room looking my patient in the eye, listening to that patient, examining them-I am the one treating that patient, not the government, not the insurance company, nor any other entity. I am the sole person responsible for the treatment and outcome for my patient.

Even though the politicians and insurance companies all are hell-bent to tell us how to treat our patients so they can “grade” us, not one of those people are willing to accept an ounce of responsibility for bad outcomes due to their interference with our treatments.

Dennis Martin, MD

 Stilwell, Oklahoma