The Cost & Benefits of Obamacare

TYLER (KYTX) -- President Obama's re-election is re-igniting an old debate. Again people are asking whether Obamacare is going to help or hurt the United States, especially in the large East Texas Medical Community.

Hidden behind the laugh and the smile, Heather Wingfield has a scar that's much more than the marks on her skin.

"My grandfather had left a can of gasoline on the floor in the garage, and we got into it, spilled it everywhere, the hot water came on and the pilot light lit the whole thing up," she said.

For nearly three decades she's lived in almost constant pain.

"It's like when am I going to get to stop dealing with this, you know?"

At the age of two, the family's insurance company dropped Wingfield from the policy. When other companies refused to cover her pre-existing problems, no one could pay for the surgeries that would have helped her heal.

Some doctors say Obamacare will end that kind of suffering.

"We need politicians that are willing to sit down and talk," Tyler Family Practice Doctor Mike McCrady said.

McCrady said forcing companies to support pre-existing conditions will help--and so will putting more doctors in clinics and hospitals.

"The fees that are going to paid to primary care doctors under the Medicaid program are going to be raised up to equal Medicare," he said. "And that will help a lot to help primary care practices go forward and do what they do."

"It will also end up increasing deductibles, increasing insurance rates," Podiatrist Robert Phelps of the East Texas Foot Clinic said. "We're turning into a blind area that we've never been to before."

Phelps is worried the government will continue to ratchet up so-called pre-payment audits which--which can delay or stop doctors from getting paid. The audits pre-date Obamacare, but Phelps said they've been happening a lot more often.

"In the prepayment audits, they're not looking necessarily for fraud," he said. "They're looking to get money back... that 716 billion dollars that Obamacare has in essence taken from Medicare."

As she continues waiting, Wingfield calls herself a political moderate who wants to work to earn own her insurance. She said she knows nothing comes free.

"It would be nice to not have to live in pain constantly," Wingfield said. "Or worried about one thing or another putting me out of commission for weeks."

Wingfield does have a little while longer to wait. Under the current law, private insurance companies will be forced to cover pre-existing conditions starting on January 1, 2014.

McCrady said the government intervention has already made the business side of being a doctor more difficult and more expensive. He's worried it will drive people in private practice out of business.


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