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Beaumont doctor discusses Affordable Care Act
BEAUMONT - by Lauren Huet
The deadline to enroll for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act this year is March 31st. So far,almost 300,000 Texans have signed up, even though in 2012, about six million Texans didn't have health insurance.
A Beaumont doctor says, despite the Affordable Care Act's goals, he's seen no real change in the number of uninsured in Texas.
Dr. David Teuscher is the vice president of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, and has closely followed the Affordable Care Act.
"When they sold it, they said, well there's 47 million uninsured out there and the best I can tell, about 5 million, maybe short of that, have bought into coverage, of which twenty percent haven't paid a premium," said Dr. Teuscher. "So, they really haven't bought into that."
He says in order for the act to work, young people need to sign up and pay for health insurance, which isn't happening.
"You may see premiums really skyrocket, because unless the young healthy people who don't need insurance start signing up, then you're not going to get people to be able to have the risk pool that's big enough to cover the people who are older, who are riskier," said Dr. Teuscher.
Dr. Teuscher says those that are signing up aren't paying.
"The vast majority are enrolling in the Medicaid, not the private insurance. So, that doesn't increase the risk pool, because they're not paying into it. They're simply getting onto a government program which is going to cost the taxpayers more to cover those people in the future. It really is unsustainable," said Dr. Teuscher.
He says the biggest problem doctors are facing is the uncertainty of the bill.
"It may have been a 3,000 page bill, but they've got over 100 thousand pages of regulations that go into implementing this," said Dr. Teuscher. "So, what doctors or hospital administrators have time to read all that and figure out what's going on?"
As for the biggest problem facing patients, Dr. Teuscher says it's rising costs.
"We're seeing an awful lot of people who lost their coverage are now having to enroll again so they can maintain their coverage. And unfortunately, it's costing them an awful lot [more] money to enroll in a new policy than the one they had before, that they thought they could keep," said Dr. Teuscher.
As of 2012, about 24 percent of Texans didn't have health insurance, which is the highest percentage nation-wide. The Department of Health and Human Services says it expects more Americans to sign-up before the deadline.