Ask the Fiddler #9: Obamacare Spawns a Slew of Scams

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Propaganda and Disinformation

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


Dear Fiddler:

Have they set up the death panels that will be part of Obamacare, deciding who lives and who dies?

Rodney in Shreveport

Dear Rodney,

whitehouse.200Yes. And the panels are made up of radical liberal Democrats with Fu Manchu beards, dressed in white frocks, huddled over complicated charts, chanting and tossing chicken bones to decide the fates of vulnerable victims of Obamacare. Those victims will be mostly rightwing Republicans, of course. It is their fate to suffer from conspiracies.

Well, back here on planet Earth. Sorry, big disappointment, I’ve searched high and low and can find no evidence of death panels.

As best as I can figure, the whole crazy idea seems to be a mad-dog rightwing conspiracy theory concocted to counter a Big Mother Government health-nazi plot. Something like that.

The truth appears to be that there were no death panels proposed, ever. The idea was a misinterpretation (possibly intentional) of a counseling provision in the initial Affordable Health Care Act legislation. The provision would have set up payments to doctors for reviewing end-of-life decisions with elderly patients, apparently from a cost-effectiveness perspective.

But how anyone could know for sure what was in the initial legislation is a mystery. It was a monster of a document.

The initial legislation establishing Obamacare ran to almost 2,500 pages. It has now been reduced to mere 900-and-something. Among pages falling by the wayside as the bill progressed through Congress were those establishing the cost-effectiveness reviews, dropped because of public distrust sparked by the death panel rumors.

Though now in the dustbin of conspiracy theories, the death panel rumor was fun while it lasted. It provided fuel for scammers who sold death panel insurance policies that would supposedly provide benefits for those selected to die.

Scams are to Obamacare like wet is to water. The gates of heaven have been thrown open and the hustlers and scammers are dancing on streets of gold.

Those who angle to keep their game on the fairly safe side of the law are offering cheap “insurance-like” packages that look as though they help cover medical costs. Upon close examination, the packages are promises that may or may not materialize. Probably not.

But it is the out-right outlaws who are having a field day. Some are pitching plans requiring up-front payments that will disappear into thin air. Others are trolling for saleable information, threatening jail time if you do not provide it.

As you are surely aware, your personal information has significant value to crooks. A tidbit such as your social security number may sell for a dollar, while your medical records might go for fifty.

The personal information allows crooks to create a medical profile for use in obtaining drugs or making false claims, among other mischief.

Experts predict that the current buffet of scams is nothing compared to what’s to come. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advises against giving any information in response to unsolicited calls, emails or door-knockers.

What appears to be a fairly good analysis of the scam situation sparked by Obamacare is offered by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.

The concern heard most these days about Obamacare is not about death panels, it’s that the legislation forces healthy young people to pay the high costs of health care for the elderly who are knocking on heaven’s door.

Something like two and a half million Americans die each year with over 700,000 of those occurring in hospitals, where the average stay is estimated to cost $1,700 per day. Granted, the number of hospital deaths is declining. People prefer to die at home.

In countering the concern about costly care of the elderly, supporters say that the young will one day be old and needing care, so it will all even out. It’s like Jim Morrison of the Doors observed: “No one here gets out alive.”

Yours truly,

The Fiddler


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