Two of the most overreaching issues with health care delivery in this country deal with patient cost and navigating the provider/payer system.

Both seem unlikely to improve soon, even if a federal appeals court rules at least part of the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. Such a ruling seems likely given the tone of questions judges in the case posed at last week’s hearing.

The Obamacare case focused on whether any of the law was legal now that Congress removed the penalty provisions of the law.

Make no mistake, Obamacare has always been a bad thing. The law upended the way health insurance companies work, expended huge amounts of public money and forced Americans to have health insurance whether wanted or not.

However, it was built on and was intended to replace a health insurance and payment system that was also flawed and fragile. Obamacare did provide affordable alternatives for millions who lacked insurance and protected those with preexisting medical conditions from dramatic premium increases.

That said, those positives didn’t outweigh the flaws of a bloated, tax-payer funded system that mandated participation.

The one largely positive thing Obamacare currently has going for it is that the public, providers and insurance companies have sort of gotten used to it. For patients, health care systems can seem like endless tail chasing, mounds of redundant paperwork and oceans of time spent doing both. Providers face uncertainties over payments and complying with both laws and regulatory requirements.

Obamacare may be a socialistic house of cards but it is sturdy enough to work with. Thus, it satisfies a main requirement of assuring that those citizens who need health care can find a way to obtain it.

Navigation and high costs are certainly not the only issues in the health care delivery system. For non-urban areas such as Lake Havasu City, fewer provider choices for both primary and specialist care complicates access through insurance provider networks.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals case bears watching as it appears very likely to throw a disruptive wrench in the way health care is obtained. It may be for the better overall, but adjusting to any changes in the law will send ripples through providers, insurers and, unfortunately, households.

— Today’s News-Herald


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