The “new normal” reaches new lows

Did you ever hear these infamous last words from Obamacare proponents: “If you’ve got a doctor you like, you will be able to keep that doctor”?

And that may be true, according to the Affordable Care Law. Except, of course, if your doctor quits because he or she can’t stand practicing medicine anymore.

In a recent survey, two-thirds of doctors said they believed many of their colleagues will retire early from medicine because of Obamacare.

And who can blame them?

Independent-minded physicians recognize that the “new normal” will require major changes, like practicing in the “team” settings typically preferred at larger organizations.

Bureaucracies favor “team” models because it diffuses responsibility. It helps bureaucrats avoid ever taking responsibility. And it helps them avoid being held accountable for anything.

For example, did you see one, single bureaucrat from the IRS, the Justice Department, or the NSA held accountable for the scandals and violations of the Constitution this summer?

Of course not.

Nor is it a good development for quality healthcare.

You might like to root for your favorite team when it comes to football. But your doctor should be the “star player” when it comes to guiding your personal healthcare.

Instead, you will be ushered onto an assembly line. You’ll see a doctor briefly. Get a diagnosis and/or treatment approved by your insurance company. And then be shown the door.

The new normal will also cut short a doctor’s time with his or her patients. But patients like having contact with their doctors. And doctors like having time with their patients too, as a recent  New York Times article pointed out.

But all that will be a thing of the past.

Once the full brunt of the Affordable Care Act hits, doctors will be punished if they spend too much time with a patient. Or if they provide too much care.

Even now, before the full fury of the new law hits, one-in-four physicians say they are not allowed to spend enough time with each patient. And one-in-five is distressed that impending government regulations will make it even worse.

There’s no doubt about it, the coming government regulation of healthcare will push doctors closer to the brink. Many doctors have already started to limit their participation in Medicaid and Medicare. And some doctors are even closing off their practices altogether.

In addition, more than 80 percent of physicians think the best and brightest students will no longer consider careers in medicine in the future. In fact, we have already seen a drop in qualified medical school applicants.

Other doctors are leaving the system completely, dropping out of insurance plans and government programs, to practice so-called “boutique” medicine. This sounds fancy, but it’s just traditional, old-fashioned, fee-for-service medicine. You pay the doctor directly for his or her time and services. Imagine that!

But for most Americans, that’s an unaffordable luxury.

In a recent interview, my colleague Jane Orient of the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons said that Obamacare will bring big changes. She said, “It’s a disaster for patients. They may lose the doctor they relied on all their lives.”

So, just as healthcare coverage is set to expand to millions of new patients (who may not need it or want it), thousands of practicing doctors will no longer be available for anyone who does.

To make it all even worse, Obamacare proponents continue to make special exemptions for the unions, other campaign supporters, and “friends.”

The latest misconduct?

The administration plans to delay the creation of health insurance exchanges. These exchanges are supposed to work like an “insurance marketplace,” where uninsured Americans can shop for and purchase insurance that suits them. And the Affordable Care Law required set-up of these “exchanges” by October 1, 2013. This gave people three months to “shop” for their insurance before the January 1, 2014 deadline for all Americans to have insurance coverage.

But it looks like that won’t happen by October 1st…yet the legal mandate for individuals to get insurance (or be punished by the IRS) by January 1st is still in force.

New lows in government incompetence and misconduct. Welcome to the “new normal.” At least for now.


1. “Survey: More Docs Plan to Retire Early,” MedPage Today ( 3/21/2013

2. “If All Doctors Had More Time to Listen,” New York Times ( 6/6/2009

3. “Survey: Obamacare Leaving Doctors Pessimistic about Future,” Newsmax ( 7/21/2013