The increased bureaucracy imposed on doctors by Obamacare

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Finding out what’s in it: Obamacare has forced doctors to increasingly replace medical care with administrative duties, much of which has been forced on them by the law’s requirement that they switch to electronic records.

The newly elected Barack Obama told the nation in 2009 that “[electronic records just won’t save billions of dollars”—$77 billion a year, promised the administration—“and thousands of jobs, it will save lives.” He then threw a cool $27 billion at going paperless by 2015.

It’s 2015, and what have we achieved? The $27 billion is gone, of course. The $77 billion in savings became a joke. Indeed, reported the Health and Human Services inspector general in 2014, “EHR technology can make it easier to commit fraud,” as in Medicare fraud, the copy-and-paste function allowing the instant filling of vast data fields, facilitating billing inflation.

That’s just the beginning of the losses. Consider the myriad small practices that, facing ruinous transition costs in equipment, software, training and time, have closed shop, gone bankrupt or been swallowed by larger entities. This hardly stays the long arm of the health care police, however. As of Jan. 1, 2015, if you haven’t gone electronic, your Medicare payments will be cut, by 1 percent this year, rising to 3 percent (potentially 5 percent) in subsequent years.

Then there is the toll on doctors’ time and patient care. One study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine found that emergency-room doctors spend 43 percent of their time entering electronic records information, 28 percent with patients. Another study found that family-practice physicians spend on average 48 minutes a day just entering clinical data.

Forget the numbers. Think just of your own doctor’s visits, of how much less listening, examining, even eye contact goes on, given the need for scrolling, clicking and box checking.

The last point is absolutely true. I have found that with most doctors today, they spend most of my visit working their computer than looking at me. It is very bad medicine, which is why my best doctors refuse to do it. Either they have an assistant do it for them (raising costs of course) or they wait until the visit is over (which of course eats into the time available to see patients).

But who are we to argue with Obama and the Democrats? As well-meaning liberals, they know best and everyone else should just shut up and obey their orders.


  • jburn

    Equally insidious is that all of our health information is now available online in some form. This combines with all information regarding our monetary transactions, telephone calls, etc,. EVERY part of our personal life is transparent, while every government action is increasingly secret and obscured from us.

    Kaiser Permanante was instrumental in crafting the AHA legislation which Democrat congressmen never bothered to read. KP dumped billions into the electronic medical record conversion. Its killing off their competition, as planned.

  • Robin Fox

    The Death Panels are already here. At Robert Wood Johnson, one of NJ’s premier hospitals, we were asked to attend a Bioethics meeting after my family complained about how badly my mother’s attending physician mismanaged her case. At the meeting they were only interested in when we planned on pulling the plug on a 90 year old patient.

  • Edward

    Doctor turned data entry technician. Where did that $200,000 education go?

    Robin’s experience is frightening. Apparently bioethics is not about whether but about how soon.

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