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Where Is The Intellectual Integrity?

Posted Jun 12 2013 2:25pm

Stanley Feld M.D, FACP, MACE

Paul Krugman did it again. He demonstrated his bias for Obamacare by ignoring or misrepresenting the facts.

  “As long as someone with Krugman’s professional status gets his facts wrong in column after column , and does so in an arrogant and pompous manner, attacking the integrity and hurling insults at all who disagree with him…well, there will always be a market for a writer who is able to show that the scourge of sensible people everywhere has written one more erroneous editorial.

This is a perfect description of Paul Krugman’s methodology. His opening sentences demonstrate the arrogance and pompous manner in which he attacks the integrity of his opponents and hurls insults at them.

“The Affordable Care Act, a k a Obamacare, goes fully into effect at the beginning of next year , and predictions of disaster are being heard far and wide. There will be an administrative “train wreck,” we’re told; consumers will face a terrible shock. Republicans, one hears, are already counting on the law’s troubles to give them a big electoral advantage.”

He uses misleading and false evidence to undermine his critics’ opinion.

“Yet important new evidence — especially from California, the law’s most important test case — suggests that the real Obamacare shock will be one of unexpected success.”

California's health insurance rates for some companies with some physician networks for the new state-run marketplace (health insurance exchange) did come in lower than expected.

However, there are certain downsides for many consumers that Paul Krugman ignores.

There will be far fewer doctors and hospitals to choose from in Covered California.  Covered California is California’s version of Obamacare’s health insurance exchange.

Consumers who want UCLA Medical Center and its doctors in their health plan network next year will have only one choice in California's exchange. Anthem Blue Cross is the only carrier.

Additionally, Blue Shield of California said its exchange customers will be restricted to 36% of its regular physician networks statewide.

These two insurers are decreasing physician reimbursement.  Physicians and their networks are refusing to participate.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center , one of Southern California’s most prestigious and expensive hospital systems and physician networks said it’s not included in any exchange plans at the moment because physicians and the hospital system will not accept the reduced reimbursement.

There is a problem with Paul Krugman’s statement because he does not define  the real cost of healthcare to the state.

The California health insurance exchange (Covered California) is trying to make consumers believe they are getting more for less.

The facts are, when you get in the weeds, Californians are getting less for more.

The health insurance exchange must be analyzed within the context of each individual patient. The insurance industry is excited about Obamacare because they believe young patients will be forced into the marketplace.

A hypothetical healthy 25 year old in San Francisco earning $46,000 a year in 2013 can buy a PPO plan from a major insurer with a $5,000 deductible and a 30% coinsurance plus a $10 copay for generic drugs and a total $7,000 out of pocket expense for $177 per month.

“Covered California, a “Bronze” plan from the exchange with nearly the same benefits, including a slightly lower out-of-pocket maximum of $6,350, will cost him between $245 and $270 a month.

The cost of coverage under Covered California is 38% higher than comparable coverage in the present overpriced private sector for someone whose chances of being sick are small.

Paul Krugman is talking about a fudged figure when he quotes a 29% reduction using the health insurance exchange .

“The rates submitted to Covered California for the 2014 individual market,” the state said in a  press release , “ranged from two percent above to 29 percent below the 2013 average premium for small employer plans in California’s most populous regions.”

This sentence led Paul Krugman’s triumphant commentary.

“This is a home run for consumers in every region of California,” exulted the head of Covered California.”

Obamacare will drive premiums up by between 100 and 123 percent for a typical nonsmoking 25-year-old earning $45,000 per year.

It will also drive them out of the market for healthcare insurance. They will buy healthcare insurance from the health insurance exchange only in case of an emergency or if they develop a chronic illness.

This is exactly what President Obama wants to happen. He wants to drive everyone into health insurance exchanges and then stick the bill to the states.

The traditional media represented by Paul Krugman is spinning the story and the American public isn’t buying it.

The problem is they aren’t feeling the pain yet. When Americans start feeling the pain there will be an uproar.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone

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