By Thom L. Cooper
Certified Elder Law Attorney*
A friend once told me that dealing with “change in the world” is like trying to figure out how to deal with a stream of water flowing down a hill. You can excavate and build dams to channel and control the water or you can just figure where the water is going to flow and be there when it gets there.
It is the same way in the area if elder law. It's a lot less work to anticipate and plan ahead of actual law changes rather than to try to deal with legal changes as they continually cascade upon us. Right now with Obamacare, I believe that we have upon us the biggest law change since Social Security. I think that the law will dramatically impact on way every senior in the country receives health care services in two very important ways:
The first is our ability to access care. In our new book Over the Hill and Under Obamacare, we have reviewed universal health care programs in the England, Canada and Massachusetts (where we had RomneyCare for several years). What we found was long waits for the most basic care and even longer waits to see a specialist.
The second is our ability to have confidence in the recommendations of our doctors. In the past, our interests have always coincided with the interests of our personal physicians. As patients, we have always wanted the best care for ourselves and our loved ones, and our personal physicians have always been paid to provide it. Our book details the move under Obamacare toward the “clinical team practice of medicine.” Under this new model, our direct treatment will be provided by those with less training under governmental guidelines and treatment categories that are designed to prevent “over-utilization” of medical services. Under this new model, those involved with our care, including our physicians, will be incentivized to provide less care. How can we have faith in the recommendations of our treatment team, including our doctors, if they are paid to provide less diagnostic tests and care?
Time will tell with respect to how this new law will specifically impact on our senior clients. My recommendation is that seniors be more involved in their care recommendations and be prepared to privately pay for tests and health care themselves. They may even need to travel to get the care. Our website, www.OverTheHillAndUnderObamacare.com, provides our specific predictions, as set forth in our book, with respect to the new law. We intend to keep our clients posted with how we did with respect to each of the predictions. The site will also provide some suggestions as to what our clients can do to cope with changes in store for them. Also, we will keep you informed about what is happening with these laws as they evolve in the future. In this way, we hope to show you “where the stream” is going to be with respect to health care and how you can be prepared to deal with the cascade of health changes coming to us all in the biggest change in senior law since Social Security.