Dr. Martha Boone doesn’t hide her displeasure with Obamacare. She was opposed to the law long before President Obama signed it one year ago and remains critical of it today. She spoke at Heritage this week about its impact on doctors.
One story Boone shared shed light on the challenges government-run health care has created with her patients. She spoke of an incident involving a Medicare patient with stress incontinence, a condition that can be treated by one of two operations.
The first operation takes 15 minutes, is not invasive and does not require anesthesia. It costs $2,200. The alternative requires cutting, general anesthesia, is more dangerous for those over 65, and has a four-week recovery. It costs $15,000.
Inexplicably, Medicare covers only the second option. Boone pleaded with Medicare and argued that it made financial sense to cover the first operation, but Medicare flatly declined.
The patient naturally preferred the first option and decided to make a patient-doctor agreement with Boone outside of Medicare to pay for treatment out-of-pocket. Then, six months later, Boone received a letter from Medicare demanding that she pay the government for a procedure Medicare refused to cover.
Such infuriating action is the norm with government-run health care, according to Boone. While private health insurance has its own flaws, Boone said she is at least able to negotiate with insurance companies and attempt to convince them a procedure is necessary.
That never happens with the government. “There’s absolutely nobody to call and the answer’s always no,” Boone said.
Add to that the growing number of doctors refusing to treat Medicare patients and Boone sees a crisis brewing. As a urologist, she’s had to diagnose three women with ovarian cancer, which is outside her field, and then had to beg gynecologists to take these women in need.
Boone said she is witnessing first hand the further government seeps into health care, the more roadblocks there are to proper patient care.
Matthew McKillip is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.