ObamaCare is the Maginot Line

September 28, 2014

The Maginot Line was a series of fortifications, devised by the eponymous André Maginot, that was intended to protect France from the kind of German invasion the country suffered in World War I. It took ten years to construct—and six weeks for the Germans to just basically sidestep the obstacles and enter France through Belgium and the low countries. I’ve never read, presumably because one wasn’t written, what would be a self-evidently ridiculous defense of the infamous line by the French commentariat.

Yet that’s what we read often about ObamaCare from the likes of Ezra Klein, who at Vox insists that “Obama’s signature accomplishment is succeeding beyond all reasonable expectation,” and from Salon, where “ObamaCare is working” has become almost a mantra. My bet is that none of OCare’s most vociferous defenders are themselves tied to an OCare plan.

I am already on record as hating, loathing, despising my individual policy’s forced migration to ObamaCare—aka Covered California in my state—which deprived me of every doctor I’d had for 30 years.

Though I’ve been paying up the wazoo for my coverage since January 1, I had yet to see a doctor this year—because I didn’t have one. So when I decided the other day not to forego my annual exam, I consulted the Anthem/CoveredCA website. After three hours, having culled my list of internists within 20 miles of me through some rudimentary Googling, I began making calls.

Half weren’t even on the plan. Many had retired. A third of those remaining weren’t actually internists; some were nephrologists, some oncologists, some gastroenterologists, etc. So I began a second list and at last found a doctor who agreed to see me. She appears to have been in practice only a year or two.

Coincidentally, the Los Angeles Times today continued its welcome coverage of ObamaCare’s problems with a story that mirrors my experience.

Finding a doctor who takes Obamacare coverage could be just as frustrating for Californians in 2015 as the health-law expansion enters its second year.

The state’s largest health insurers are sticking with their often-criticized narrow networks of doctors, and in some cases they are cutting the number of physicians even more, according to a Times analysis of company data. And the state’s insurance exchange, Covered California, still has no comprehensive directory to help consumers match doctors with health plans.

This comes as insurers prepare to enroll hundreds of thousands of new patients this fall and get 1.2 million Californians to renew their policies under the Affordable Care Act.

Even as California’s enrollment grows, many patients continue to complain about being offered fewer choices of doctors and having no easy way to find the ones that are available.

In a world of lowered expectations, where declining unemployment rates are hailed even though the decline is attributable almost entirely to workers dropping out of the labor market, it makes sense to consider ObamaCare a success just for the fact that people have insurance, regardless of whether they have competent medical care.

On paper, my own plan, which Anthem assured me was not on the exchange “because you’re not getting a subsidy,” is terrific. But its lack of access to real, licensed, experienced, capable medicos is a scandal. It’s like having floor seats at Staples Center. . .on nights when there’s no game.

Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms, said the continued emphasis on narrow networks and a lack of clear information portend another challenging year for consumers.

It’s been a low priority for insurance companies to maintain these provider directories, and states really aren’t pushing back on narrow networks,” Corlette said.

Covered California endorses the industry’s narrow network strategy as a way to keep premiums affordable. The state has credited it for helping produce two straight years of lower-than-expected premiums for individual coverage. Rates for 2015 are expected to increase 4.2%, on average.

ObamaCare is the Maginot Line. And someday those who still defend it will be viewed with the contempt we have for Marshal Pétain, who at least got a gig out of the debacle.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

LukeHandCool September 28, 2014 at 10:02 am

Don’t worry,

As promised, work is progressing on bending the life-expectancy curve down, and Dr. Emanuel is fronting a new ad blitz. (I was going to say “ad campaign,” but “blitz” seemed more appropriate in the context of your post.)

Once we convince people entering their seventies that they are little more than trash, ObamaCare, as well as Social Security, shall become stronger, as immovable as a rock, no, let’s say as immovable as a Maginot Line.

Rumor has it that Dr. Emanuel, in a bid to win over aging baby boomers, is talking to aging rockers to enlist them and their music in the effort.

“Things he says sound awful c-c-c-cold …

HOPE …”

By the way, Pete Townshend is less than six years away from being too old to rock ‘n roll—or anything else for that matter.

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