Whatever you think of Obamacare, the United States healthcare system before Obamacare was a mess.
Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, is an attempt to straighten it out. So said Dr. Michael Richards, speaking to the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Association. Richards is executive physician in chief of University of New Mexico Health Systems — one of the leaders responsible for moving New Mexico’s healthcare system into the new century.
As Richards spoke, the doctor sitting next to me was muttering. This transformation is going to be hard on doctors, especially those in private practice.
The problem, as we hear often, is that the United States spends more than twice as much per patient as other advanced countries, but our outcomes are worse, our error rates are among the highest, and alarming numbers of Americans have little or no access to services.
The ACA addresses three goals, Richards said. These goals conflict with each other, so regulatory processes are needed to keep them in balance.
First is insurance reform, especially to improve access by abolishing the limits for people with pre-existing conditions. This is good for those patients but it adds cost to an already costly system.