Editors at the Herald Democrat have been a pretty good lot, in my experience. And I didn’t just say that to pander for the sake of getting this column published, honest.

Editors at the Herald Democrat have been a pretty good lot, in my experience. And I didn’t just say that to pander for the sake of getting this column published, honest.


In 15 years of making sporadic submissions to our local newspaper, I’ve gotten some pretty good feedback from the guy at the copy desk. A prime example was my recent exchange with an editor I’ll keep unnamed.


In January, a column of mine appeared here. In it, I pointed out several scientific studies that are now proving wrong the arguments used to support Obamacare when it was passed. I also reported the negative experience my office had processing (I’m almost ashamed to even use that word in the context of patient care) the benefits of my first Obamacare patient.


In writing and researching that column, I realized I had much more to tell people about this Obamacare fiasco that tries to sound respectable by calling itself the Affordable Care Act. So, I contacted the Herald Democrat about running a regular column on the challenges of trying to run a functional medical practice in today’s evermore burdensome regulatory environment. The advice I got from the newspaper was good advice: "Show, don’t tell." That is, explain how Obamacare has impacted you personally. Don’t just voice general criticism of the program.


My latest brush with Obamacare was not as a physician but as an employer. For many years, I’ve provided medical insurance for my employees that choose to enroll. I’ve done so because I wanted to hire and retain quality nurses and staff. And I’ve done it because I thought it was the right thing to do.


The Affordable Care Act (yes, "Obamacare") was not suppose to hurt folks currently enrolled in insurance through their employer. But after doing my homework, I can only conclude a LOT of people are going to be hurt by Obamacare. You can do an easy Google search to find countless articles of how the big corporations are handling this. If they need to reduce the number of full­-time employees the law requires them to insure, no problem.


They cut folks hours to part­ time. If they have the option to direct their employees to obtain health insurance on their own via Obamacare, no problem. They drop everyone’s current coverage (if the insurance company hasn’t cancelled the policy already) and enjoy a tidy corporate cost savings in the process.


Recently, I did some research to see what it would save me and what it would cost my employees if I stopped providing them health insurance and had them get it on their own "courtesy" of Obamacare. The first part of my research was easy. I found my business would pocket an extra $55,000 a year if I stopped providing insurance to my employees. That’d be $55,000 I could use to buy new medical equipment.


Alternatively, I could keep it all for myself (after paying a large chunk in federal taxes). Or I could donate all or a portion of it to a local charity where I know it’d be put to good use. The second part of my research was a real eye­-opener. This part required me to have each of my employees go the healthcare.gov website and see if they were eligible for subsidized premiums under Obamacare. If they did not qualify, they were asked to get a quote for the cost of insurance if they purchased it on their own through the health-care exchanges.


Without exception, my employees came back from their research exercise with only two answers from healthcare.org. One was, "Sorry, you make too much money to qualify for subsidized premiums." The other answer was "We can’t help you, but you should try Medicaid." Hopefully, the conclusion my employees came away from this exercise with was, "Holy cow! Please don’t ask the government to get involved in anything! Our boss was taking care of us just fine before Obamacare stuck its nose in our business."


The final sad fact to report is how unaffordable the Affordable Care Act actually is. The cost of premiums for my employees if they had to purchase their own health insurance through the exchanges is simply out of reach. On average, they would have to spend 15 percent of their income just on their premiums (not including any copays, deductibles and maximum out-of-­pocket expenses).


In the saddest example, one of my best and longest-­tenured employees would spend over a one-third of her income on premiums alone. One thing you can say about Obamacare is that it follows the same rules that other failed government programs have followed throughout history. First, it costs far more than what the government said it would. And second, it does far less than the government promised it would.


Dr. STEVE JOHNSON has been in private practice in Sherman for 17 years. He can be reached at drjohnson@sajurology.com.