A Troubling Trend

Hamptons Editorial

If you haven’t been affected, you may not realize the deteriorating state of medical insurance is accelerating.

Part of the problem, from our perspective, has been politicizing the issue. When President Obama’s Affordable Care Act was being debated, critics pointed out the inequities. When it was passed, they became a reality — the system wasn’t going to attract the number of insurers necessary to achieve a competitive market, and monthly premium costs surged. From the beginning, and since, insurers have been abandoning the more affordable plans, particularly those shuffled through Medicaid.

President Trump and the Republicans seized on the unrest — and ever-rising cost to consumers — but stalled in their plan to revamp Obamacare when Democrats, many of whom were against Obamacare, stiffened in the face of political pressure. In the end, the Republicans dropped the ball when they had the votes to revamp it.

Trump made it easier to opt out of some of the aspects of the plan that were unpopular but necessary. The result has been not only soaring costs, but situations that exist where patients simply cannot find doctors who will take their insurance.

The situation came to a head on Long Island last week when Blue Cross dropped coverage for thousands of oncology, urology, and radiation patients, meaning radiation centers will no longer service them unless they pay for the service or find another provider.

The action is catastrophic from a health standpoint, and devastating for those on fixed incomes and tight budgets. New insurance must be found, and rates will surely increase. For those on the East End, long, up Island drives to get regular treatment are a near certainty.

There is plenty of blame to go around, but the brunt should be on the shoulders of the politicians who claim they will fix the problem if their party is voted into office. All of our incumbents have had a chance to weigh in on the problem, and none have made much of a difference. Never underestimate the power of the giant pharmaceuticals and HMOs. Washington is very much beholden to them.

Are we advocating a Big Brother fix where the government takes over the industry and provides coverage for every citizen? Unless the private sector can step up, and unless politicians stop bickering and take action, it may well be the only solution. With a national election coming, national health care will again be on the table. It is, increasingly, an option. The time may quickly be approaching that it is the only option.

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