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December 5, 2013

Hope and Change Update: US Healthcare, Now With Smaller Networks Than Ever

Topics: Political News and commentaries

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Like your doctor? Like your hospital? Want to keep them as President Obama promised? Well, lots of luck with that, because you're going to need it. It turns out that the plans offered in Obamacare exchanges, keep premiums low by drastically reducing the number of providers covered. So a lower premium may mean higher health care costs for people with hospitals, doctors, or specialists not covered in-network.

As noted at The American Interest, The Seattle Times reports on the network restrictions that are increasingly limiting Washingtonians' ability to see key doctors and hospitals without incurring major financial risk.

The article goes on to list every insurance company that offers plans in the Washington exchange as well as the hospitals that are in-network for those companies. Pivoting off of that list, Steve Roth points out that two of Washington's biggest insurers -- Primera and Lifewise -- don't have any of the state's four top specialty hospitals in their networks. If you want the best cancer, trauma, ER, or pediatric care, and your plan is with one of the two biggest carriers in your state, you're out of luck. Figuring out which insurers cover which providers, and determining from there which provider makes the most sense for you, is a hugely complex and time intensive process, as Roth details in his piece. And even when you've done all the research, at the end of the road is the fact that networks keep getting smaller.

This is a trend that the ACA is encouraging, and the acceleration of it is likely to be the next big PR challenge for the Obama administration. More and more we're seeing that the ACA is doing nothing to reverse the worst trends driving our health care crisis -- and that in some cases it's even intensifying them. Hospitals are getting bigger, prices are going up, the system is getting even more complicated, and networks are getting smaller. Meanwhile, politicians continue to debate reforms that largely fail to address any of these problems.

Last month, The New York Post succinctly summed up the situation with "Got ObamaCare? Too bad for you" ... pointing out that all over America, many of the policies sold in the exchanges are "narrow network" plans with very limited choice of doctors and hospitals:
[...] Many Americans have had policies that the president calls "substandard" canceled; they're being pushed into the ObamaCare exchanges -- where they'll find they're worse off. President Obama will soon become the country's biggest purveyor of second-rate coverage.

Posted by Hyscience at December 5, 2013 11:52 AM



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