My encounter with the healthcare system

By Tom Quiner

I had surgery yesterday.

I knew it was coming. I went into my general practitioner in October for a physical. He referred me to a specialist for my particular situation.

I was able to get into the specialist/surgeon for an exam in 14 days.

We scheduled the surgery for yesterday. I could have had the surgery performed even quicker, but I deferred it to calendar year 2013 for the sake of my health savings account (HSA). I have a $5700 deductible, so I’m loading up medical tests and procedures for this year since I maxed out my deductible yesterday.

Everything went like clockwork, in fact, even better than clockwork.

My surgery was scheduled for 12:30 PM. They told me to arrive at 10:30 AM. Paperwork was quickly handled, and I was on my way to surgery an hour early, by 11:30 AM.

Surgery went well. I feel lousy, and will for awhile, but will be good as new in a month or so.

I couldn’t help but think about the impact Obamacare could have on procedures like this years down the road.

The immediate impact is that my surgery will cost me more because of Obamacare. Formerly, I could deduct the first $5000 on my HSA. Obamacare sliced the deduction to $2500.

The ultimate goal of Obamacare is to morph into a single payer system. I saw in the morning paper that my health insurance premiums are going to go up another 13% this year. Policy holders are screaming.

It is only going to get worse, because of the perverse incentives built into Obamacare.

You are required by law to purchase health insurance or be fined. But the fines are far less than the price of the insurance. If you’re healthy, you may choose to forgo health insurance until you need it.

In other words, it makes more economic sense to wait and purchase health insurance when you get sick.

At that point, Obamacare forces the insurance company to cover you. Even more, Obamacare forces insurance companies to charge the same for sick people as healthy people. Once you’re well, you can simply drop your coverage until you get sick again.

In summary:

√ It is cheaper to NOT buy insurance if you’re healthy.

√ There’s no incentive to buy insurance UNTIL you get sick.

√ Insurance companies HAVE to cover you, even if you’re sick.

√ Insurance companies HAVE to charge the same premiums to people with terminal cancer as world-class triathlon champions who have never been sick a day in their life.

What will happen? Only sick people will have health insurance. To survive, health insurance companies will have to charge dramatically higher premiums.

The Obamacare objective of lowering the cost of health insurance will have been turned on its head.

The risk of health insurance becoming totally unaffordable is very real, thanks to Obamacare. This year’s 13% increase may look good compared to future years.

When this happens, liberals will explain it is the fault of the marketplace, that we need a single payer system. How will that affect people like me who need to see a specialist? Let’s look at Canada and Great Britain who have the single payer system to which liberals aspire. Let’s compare the percentage of patients referred to a medical specialist who actually saw one within one month:

√ 77% U.S.

43% Canada

40% England

I was taken care of quickly. We won’t be able to count on this type of service in the future. Inevitably, government-run programs are forced to ration healthcare, which slows things down. Here are two more examples:

What is the percentage of patients diagnosed with diabetes who received treatment within six months?

√ 93% U.S.

43% Canada

15% England

What is the percentage of seniors needing hip replacement who received it within six months?

√ 90% U.S.

43% Canada

15% England

Obamacare may surprise us. Maybe for the first time in history, the laws of supply and demand can be cheated.

As for me, I’m glad I got this surgery over and done with now rather than a few years down the road.

Time for a pain pill. Thinking about Obamacare hurts more than my incisions.


  1. Embattled Farmers on January 5, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Hope you feel better soon.
    The real culprit here is the employer-based health care system, which was a clever idea to evade wage-and-price controls during WWII, but makes no sense now. A free market can’t function when the person paying for the service and the person using the service are not the same. We need a consumer-based health care system where patients have more skin in the game (literally and figuratively!). When something is essentially free, much more of it is consumed. Health care costs are the single biggest problem this country faces. Fixing Social Security is pretty easy — Medicare not so much.
    The GOP had all the decades after WWII to come up with a smarter, consumer-based system, but they didn’t. So we have Obamacare.
    But the whole HSA/calendar year/deductible thing doesn’t make sense either. You should have been able to have your surgery ASAP and not have to wait till it was 2013.

    • quinersdiner on January 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      Pretty much agree with you. John McCain did propose a market-based system, but it was too little too late. The GOP proposed initiatives earlier in the decade to open up the marketing of health insurance across state lines, which would have opened up more consumer choice. But Dems blocked it, and Republicans weren’t willing to go the mat for it. Great to hear from you. Thanks.

      • Embattled Farmers on January 5, 2013 at 9:32 pm

        Besides opening up competition across state lines, we should have ended the tax deduction of insurance for businesses and made it a deduction for individuals and families and a tax credit for poorer families.

    • Shawn Pavlik on January 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm

      You say “The GOP had all the decades after WWII to come up with a smarter, consumer-based system, but they didn’t.” Unfortunately, the Democrats controlled the house for over 40 years from the 1950’s through 1994. We balanced the budget in the late 90’s, but couldn’t sustain that through 2 wars and the collapse of the housing market and tech bubble. The GOP TRIED to do something about SS, but the scare tactics of the libs scared seniors away. Now we are probably past the point of no return and all these entitlements that people depend on will soon go bankrupt.

  2. Paul Sharp on January 5, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Very interesting post and may your recovery go well.

    Obamacare destroys risk based health insurance and the claim that it will lower insurance costs is bizarre. And about employer based insurance: I think it contributed to removing patient responsibility for health care costs, and it made for very unfair insurance costs for the self employed. Scary to think how such a major flaw got such traction in our society.

    Hmm, will boutique health care; i.e. purchasing health care without any insurance – pay as you need it, be available? I suppose the ACA wizards foresaw that possiblity and regulated it away.

    Likely I’m just dreaming what might have been, but somewhere I read of the 3 C’s for covering health care costs: cash, charity and catastrophic insurance.

    • quinersdiner on January 5, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      Makes sense to me. Thanks for writing.

  3. Bob Vance on January 6, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Hope you make a quick and full recovery.

  4. maxinebechtel on January 6, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Tom– sorry you’ve had to have surgery! My prayers are for a very speedy recovery!

    In discovering all about the dire provisions toward senior citizens in Obamacare, I’m really sure that being an 84-year-old is much more precarious than we even imagined! I’m leaning heavily on the Omnipotent Sovereignty of my Lord and Savior to see me through ’til He takes me to my Heavenly Home!