From the day that health insurance reform was proposed by President Obama and the Democratic congress, Fox News has been fiercely opposed to any change in the system that had been failing so miserably for decades. Conservatives were united in support of policies that left millions of Americans uninsured while making millions of dollars for insurance companies (and the GOP politicians who backed them).
Since ObamaCare was implemented, Fox News has worked tirelessly attempting to persuade people to refuse to participate in the program. It’s a mission that seeks to cause ObamaCare to fail. Fox has feverishly rolled out blatant scare tactics aimed at keeping citizens from taking advantage of the improved access to medical care and the lower costs that the ACA provides. And as the year comes to a close, Fox News is augmenting their fear mongering with dreadfully bad advice that, if followed, will cause certain harm and suffering.
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The article, “Eight Ways to Opt Out of ObamaCare,” was published on the Fox News community website and lie factory, Fox Nation (see the acclaimed ebook Fox Nation vs. Reality for more than 50 documented examples of proven lies). It was a reposting of an item from the disreputable rightist hacks at Breitbart News who have been Fox’s partner in falsely smearing ObamaCare and all things liberal. Below are the actual tips offered by the FoxPods and BreitBrats to convince people that not having legitimate, dependable health insurance is a good idea.
1. Join a health care sharing ministry
These “clubs” are set up as charitable organizations wherein people are reimbursed for their health care costs by the other members of the collective. But in order to join, applicants must first pledge their Christian faith and promise not to drink, take drugs or have sex outside of a traditional marriage. Some even require a reference from a minister. Clearly, this is not an option for most people. Furthermore, those with preexisting conditions are not accepted for membership. The coverage also doesn’t include “products of un-Biblical lifestyles,” such as contraception or substance rehab, or some preventive medicine, including colonoscopies and annual mammograms. The clubs are are not obligated to reimburse anyone for anything and there is no regulatory oversight that protects the consumer.
2. Purchase a short-term health insurance policy
Short term health insurance policies provide coverage for a period of six months or less. They are intended for use between jobs or other temporary lapses in insurance coverage. They are not renewable, but you can purchase another after one expires. However, any condition that was being treated while one policy was in effect is exempted from coverage by subsequent policies. Short term health insurance policies are generally intended to only cover major medical expenses. In addition to excluding coverage for preexisting conditions, such policies generally exclude coverage for services like preventive treatment (e.g. routine physical exams and immunizations), pregnancy or childbirth.
3. Buy alternative insurance plans such as fixed-benefit, critical illness, or accident insurance
Fixed-benefit plans are described by Consumer Reports as “Stingy plans [that] may be worse than none at all.” These plans will reimburse you a fixed amount for a specified illness. It is usually far less than necessary to cover the services, and you’re responsible for the remainder. Illnesses not specified are not covered at all. Critical illness and accident insurance are similarly narrow and often do not cover common medical conditions. Included in this tip is a laughable suggestion to increase the accident coverage of your auto insurance policy as a alternative to real health insurance.
4. Visit cash-only doctors and retail health clinics
Cash-only doctors and retail health clinics provide only basic services that can be performed in the doctor’s office. Any more serious treatment like surgery, or services that require more sophisticated hospital equipment like MRI’s, must be paid for separately. Consequently, the most expensive types of care are not covered at all.
5. Sign up for a telemedicine service
Telemedicine is a great leap forward as a tool for providing a service in conjunction with conventional doctor’s care. However, it is wholly insufficient as a replacement for insurance. It basically gives a patient the opportunity to talk to doctor, but no actual treatment is covered. Costs for anything from a vaccination to open-heart surgery would be born by the patient alone.
6. Use generic prescription drugs whenever possible, and compare prices between pharmacies
This is prudent advice for any patient but, once again, it does not in any way replace health insurance. It doesn’t even provide the pharmaceutical benefits of a legitimate health care plan that can provide drugs for small co-pays of a few dollars.
7. For surgery find a facility that offers up-front “package” prices for self-pay patients
This is essentially a suggestion to shop around for cheap surgeons after you have already determined a need (and it does not address how that medical determination was arrived at or paid for). It does not guarantee that the costs will be affordable, even if they are less costly than the average doctor. And while comparison shopping for a Sony HDTV might save you a few bucks, is anyone really comfortable with having a heart bypass performed by the guy who offers to do it for the lowest price? Paging Dr. Nick.
8. When a hospital visit becomes necessary, work with a medical bill negotiation service
This advice can lower the cost of hospital services, but there is no promise that the fees will be reduced to an amount that is manageable for people with limited resources. For instance, your $50,000 cancer treatment might be reduced to $35,000, which is fine if you have $35,000 laying around. If not, you will wish you had insurance.
Every one of these tips are misleading and dangerous. They could result in people being unable to get necessary medical care and/or thrown into bankruptcy. For Fox News to offer them as suitable alternatives to health insurance is irresponsible and potentially tragic. The well-to-do pundits and editors at Fox won’t be the ones to suffer from this extremely bad advice, yet they knowingly put others at risk. And it’s especially offensive when the program that Fox is steering people away from is one that actually provides comprehensive care for more people, at lower cost, than anything that has been available in the past.
Health care is something that every citizen is going to require at one time or another, without exception. And while ObamaCare is not perfect, it is a step in the right direction. The more people who enroll, the more efficiently costs can be controlled and reduced. And of course, the fewer illnesses and injuries that go untreated. These are apparently goals that Fox News and the Republican/Tea Party right-wing oppose, hence this list of resolutions that can only make the new year a nightmare for those foolish enough to adopt them.