Washington View: Medical outsourcing just might continue with Obamacare
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
When the so-called Affordable Care Act was signed into law in March 2010, President Obama promised that health care would be affordable and repeatedly assured Americans that if they liked their health plan and their doctor, they could keep them.
Neither promise has come true. Millions of people are losing their preferred coverage, tens of thousands of doctors plan to retire rather than deal with the ACA, and costs are skyrocketing.
Last March, the Congressional Budget Office doubled the original cost estimate of "Obamacare" to $1.76 trillion over the next 10 years. Recently, the CBO estimated 6 million Americans -- mostly in the middle class -- will pay the health care tax rather than buy coverage under President Obama's health care law, a 50 percent increase over the CBO's estimate of just two years ago. Meanwhile, our national debt is spinning out of control and accelerating at a faster and faster pace.
Where will we go for health care?
More of us will find affordable quality health care offshore and, regardless of how hard the president, Congress, governors, insurance commissioners or legislators try to regulate or control it, Americans -- passports in hand -- will fly away for treatment.
That's what 56-year-old Atlanta personal trainer Ralph Ballard did in 2009, which was before Obamacare passed. Uninsured and needing a hip replacement, he found that his options stateside were severely limited. "At one hospital, I was told that my costs would start at $60,000! And that didn't cover the doctor, the prosthesis, the guy who sweeps the floor," Ballard told MSN.
So Ballard did research on the Internet and eventually contacted a medical practice in Costa Rica. He learned that $17,200 would cover the cost of his surgery, including a titanium prosthetic ball set in his hip, all tests and X-rays, a brief hospital stay, two weeks at a pleasant ranch where he received excellent food and daily physical therapy, and transfers to and from the airport. He paid extra only for his airfare.
How is he doing today? "It was the best thing I ever did. The hip is perfect now, my surgeon was great, and they treated me wonderfully. If I ever need another procedure, I'm going back there," Ballard says.
Others are joining Ballard looking outside the U.S. for treatment as Obamacare and government-dominated state health care exchanges like Washington's take control of our health care. The skyrocketing costs and morass of rules, regulations and restrictions are driving Americans to look to other countries for treatment.
There is a flood of American patients heading abroad for surgeries and other medical and dental treatments. "There's been between a 20 percent and a 30 percent growth rate for this sort of travel in just the last five years," says Josef Woodman, author of the book series and website Patients Without Borders and CEO of Healthy Travel Media.
Just as Ford, GM and Chrysler learned, global competition is here to stay. Why would it not apply to health care? Anyone can go online today and find the savings Ralph Ballard did three years ago. As health care and insurance costs skyrocket in the United States, more and more people will likely couple treatment with a vacation.
It is the law of unintended consequences, something our elected officials seem to ignore these days.
Americans are known for their ingenuity and creativity. Do the supporters of government-run health care really believe we are going to sit back and let state and federal bureaucrats dictate our health care, limit our choices and load us up with higher premiums and taxes while they increase the federal deficit to subsidize government run health care?
The answer is clear.
Don Brunell is president of the Association of Washington Business, Washington state's chamber of commerce. Visit http://www.awb.org.