How pre-Obamacare system saved a life, a family's budget


Has Obamacare really been a “godsend” for people with serious medical conditions, as the USA Today editorial board argued in March? Try telling Cheryl Chumley.

The veteran journalist and author nearly lost her husband, Doug, in 2008, but the perseverance of a team of doctors and medical professionals saved him from the brink of death.

The ordeal and its aftermath could have ruined Doug and Cheryl financially, but a generous private insurance plan was there for them when they needed it most – in the pre-Obamacare days, when insurance companies were supposedly denying coverage for necessary services on a routine basis, according to Barack Obama and his allies.

Chumley recently told her husband’s story, just as Congress was working on a replacement for Obamacare, in the Washington Times and spoke about it on the Fox Business Network.

In April 2008, Doug suffered a massive heart attack. During a helicopter flight to a hospital, he fell into a coma. Doctors at the hospital initially had trouble keeping his heart beating. In fact, hospital staffers at one point sent Cheryl a grief counselor who suggested she tell her four children that their father wasn’t going to make it through the night.

But doctors and nurses worked through the night to get Doug’s heart pumping. They shocked him repeatedly with a defibrillator, inserted three stents and kept him in a medically induced coma. They inserted a balloon pump above his leg to keep the blood flowing, but complications developed and they were forced to amputate his leg.

Ten days after he arrived at the hospital, and having received around-the-clock care from two intensive care teams, Doug emerged from his coma without any brain damage. But his troubles were hardly over. He needed followup surgeries on the stump of his amputated leg, a gall bladder removal, several stomach surgeries and home health care. He also needed to be fitted for a prosthetic leg.

And yet, the Chumleys’ final bill for all of that was only about $1,200, which was the copay for the helicopter flight. BlueCross-BlueShield, the insurer provided through Doug’s employer, covered everything else.

When Aetna became the Chumleys’ new insurance provider months later, the insurer did not deny Doug any coverage due to his “preexisting condition.” He had no trouble getting a new prosthetic leg that cost tens of thousands of dollars, and there were no denials of service when he had to return to the hospital many times over the ensuing years to receive emergency services or follow-up care for various health issues.

“This was pre-Obamacare days, mind you,” Cheryl Chumley wrote. “The days when so-called evil private insurers were routinely denying necessary services and screwing poor sick victims out of proper health care.”

Chumley, the author of “The Devil in DC: Winning Back the Country From the Beast in Washington,” is grateful her husband didn’t have to rely on government health insurance during his near-death experience.

A few months after Doug left the hospital from his heart attack stay, the Chumleys ran into one of the nurses who had cared for him. The nurse told them if Doug had been on Medicare or Medicaid at the time of his heart attack, the doctors would have abandoned their life-saving efforts long before he emerged from his coma.

That’s because those government health care plans wouldn’t have paid for Doug’s around-the-clock intensive care. The doctors would have pulled the plug and waited to see what happened.

But BlueCross-BlueShield, the private insurer, approved all the doctors’ service requests, which ended up saving Doug’s life.

“That’s not how Barack Obama and his socialist Obamacare supporters would tell it,” Chumley wrote. “According to them, private insurers were – still are – evil money-making grubs, concerned only about the profit statements they can deliver their boards.

“The truth?

“Had Obamacare been the law of the land in early 2008, my husband probably would’ve died. And even if he didn’t, we probably would’ve had thousands and thousands of more dollars in medical expenses than we did. We do now, for crying out loud: post-Obamacare, the ongoing health needs of my husband cost thousands of dollars more in deductibles and copays than we ever paid in the freer market.”


Dr. Lee Hieb, an orthopedic surgeon and past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, said physicians like her grimace whenever a patient walks through their doors carrying Medicaid instead of private insurance. And Obamacare only exacerbated the problem by the way it dealt with people who couldn’t afford insurance.

“They didn’t give them insurance, they gave them Medicaid, and Medicaid pays so little that it’s hard to find a doctor to take it,” Hieb told WND. “It’s worse than charity. If I want to give charity to somebody, I could see them for free. But when I see a Medicaid patient, it costs me more than what I’m getting, so I’m paying for the privilege sometimes. Because I have to fill out all this paperwork, I have to hire a staff, I have to do all that stuff, and I’m not getting paid enough.”

Hieb warned Americans of the dangers of Obamacare in her book “Surviving the Medical Meltdown: Your Guide to Living Through the Disaster of Obamacare.” She told WND she has been seeing more and more able-bodied working people on Medicaid since Obamacare took effect – and Medicaid’s low reimbursement rates do not help doctors or hospitals cover their costs.

“So I guess that’s the biggest problem with Obamacare – it’s economically unsound because it doesn’t support the people that are taking care of you, and that’s why many private practices are collapsing,” Hieb said.

As for Chumley, she told WND she and Doug are still on an employer-provided health plan, but Doug’s employer switched to a no-name insurer a year ago due to rising Obamacare costs.

“So over the last year, my husband, who still has ongoing health needs, had to switch doctors – because this new plan, while cheaper for the employer, doesn’t cover half as many providers,” she said. “It also requires three times the amount of deductibles to be paid before insurance kicks in, and includes higher copays on more services.”

In fact, Chumley said she has now picked up health insurance through her employer to try and help keep her husband’s costs down.

“This means hundreds of dollars more taken from our paychecks to pay for insurance,” she said. “Whereas pre-Obamacare, one company-provided insurance plan would suffice, now post-Obamacare, we’re trying two (at least for the time being) to see about getting some cost-savings.”

Chumley noted the sad irony of Obamacare.

“Pretty much everything Obama and his ilk said was happening in the medical world to justify the passage of Obamacare – the high copays, the burdensome deductibles, the limited choice of doctors, the inability to visit the physicians and hospitals of preference – actually only occurred after Obamacare passed,” she concluded.

How pre-Obamacare system saved a life, a family's budget
Source: WND