Now they tell us….
The story is especially newsworthy because of the source. Reed Abelson reports in The New York Times that, as you must have known, having health insurance is not the same as having health care. The Affordable Care Act provides more insurance, but it also provides less care.
In the midst of all the turmoil in health care these days, one thing is becoming clear: No matter what kind of health plan consumers choose, they will find fewer doctors and hospitals in their network — or pay much more for the privilege of going to any provider they want.
These so-called narrow networks, featuring limited groups of providers, have made a big entrance on the newly created state insurance exchanges, where they are a common feature in many of the plans. While the sizes of the networks vary considerably, many plans now exclude at least some large hospitals or doctors’ groups. Smaller networks are also becoming more common in health care coverage offered by employers and in private Medicare Advantage plans.
Let’s see. If you like your insurance you can’t keep it. If you like your doctor you can’t keep him or her. Moreover, you can no longer choose a physician or a hospital freely. You cannot shop for the best care available, as you could have in the insurance plan that was just canceled.
Of course, if you are really rich and can pay out of pocket, Abelson correctly notes, you can still choose your doctors or hospitals freely.
Remember freedom to choose? It was just a bad habit. Now the government is forcing the insurance companies to help you to break the habit.
“We have to break people away from the choice habit that everyone has,” said Marcus Merz, the chief executive of PreferredOne, an insurer in Golden Valley, Minn., that is owned by two health systems and a physician group. “We’re all trying to break away from this fixation on open access and broad networks.”
Kudos to the New York Times for reporting the facts about the implementation of Obamacare. Let’s hope that it’s not too little, too late.