Monday, May 18, 2015

Heard the one about the health policy expert and the handyman?

Probably not, but you may have read something like this Leonard Pitts Jr. column from the Tacoma News Tribune on the deplorable situation of one South Carolina self-employed handyman named Luis Lang. The headline tells all;

Obamacare critic discovers GoFundMe is much worse

In which Pitts misrepresents several facts about the the man who is going blind, such as; ...he has a $300,000 home and a wife who doesn’t work; why, they ask, can’t he raise the money from them? 

Well, because he has no equity in his home, Len. A problem, come to think of it, that a lot of people have found themselves in since the housing bubble popped back in 2006-07. A bubble created by yet another bright idea brought to fruition by government; affordable housing.

But, let's pass over that debacle, and go to Professor Harold Pollack of the U of Chicago, who also has a blog, and was honest enough to call Mr. Lang and talk to him (and learn something!). Pollack recorded his conversation and posted a trascript, which reads, in part;
Lang: The whole story is the following: In the summer of 2013, I had … my right eye went a little bit blurry so I went to a ophthalmologist, Dr. Edwards....
He is known for working with sliding scales [of his fees, for those who can't afford him]. So I went to see him and he diagnosed me with what’s called diabetic retinopathy.
.... I was in once a month and when I went to sign in, they’d say okay, the first time it was $120 … paid it. As I was leaving the office it’s another $80 for the injection. Paid it. And every month I would go in for my injection and I would pay my bill.....I went through three treatments. After the third treatment, Dr. Edwards goes “I’m going to have the girls here in the office help you fill out the paperwork because pharmaceutical companies often do … They give medication for people who have a different type of income.” So I filled it out and I was happy when I got approved because Avastin is almost $2,000 an injection.
.... So I filled it out. I got approved. I go for my fourth session and the bill went from $80 … and I was expecting it to go down … went up to over $600.
....And so I’m like “Okay, I need an explanation of this.” And what they told me at that moment was because the Affordable Healthcare Act going into effect,  he could no longer give me the discounts he was giving me. [our bold]
This takes Prof. Pollack by surprise. He tries to talk away the problem;
Pollack: But that’s not because of President of Obama, that’s because the state of South Carolina has chosen not to expand Medicaid. That has nothing to do with President Obama. That’s completely your state government.
Lang: Okay, but if you get to the beginning, the only reason my visits went from $80 that I was paying to over $610 that I could no longer afford was because the Affordable Healthcare Act went into place and what happened was …
.... was because of that, all the other insurance companies cut back on what they were paying doctors so he could no longer afford to give me discounts because what he would make on other payments that other insurance companies would pay full payment, he would use it help other people who didn’t and basically what he was charging me was the same thing like if I had Medicare. So if I had Medicaid, he would have only gotten paid $80 for the visit and that’s the only thing he was asking me to pay.
....I can’t blame him. He’s been wonderful, but and again, I’ve done my little bit of research and I’ve heard about this over and over again of doctors that used to work on sliding scales that can no longer work on sliding scales.
Which doesn't exactly support the TNT's headline that which, in desperation, Mr. Lang has turned to raise money for an operation needed for his failing vision--is much worse than Obamacare. It sounds like GoFundMe is actually a solution to the problem Obamacare created for Mr. Lang.

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