Healthcare

Obamacare tells you which docs you can, can’t see

Obamacare tells you which docs you can, can’t see

This article originally appeared on watchdog.org.

OSAWATOMIE — From the beginning, President Barack Obama has assuaged concerns about the rollout of the Affordable Care Act by telling Americans time and again that “if you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor.”

Well, maybe not.

That pledge, which was greeted with skepticism by many from the start, is starting to seem like more of a half-truth, and borders on the edge of being a bold-faced lie.

The Kansas City Star reported Sunday that bargain-basement plans on the federal health care exchange are excluding various health care providers in and around the Kansas City Metro Area. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, which typically covers 19 area hospitals under its standard plans, will only include seven under the bronze-level packages found through HealthCare.gov.

Networks of doctors and hospitals that have negotiated prices with an insurance company are a typical feature of health plans. Patients who go to a doctor and hospital outside their plan’s network usually pay a substantially higher portion of their bill.

By keeping networks small, insurance companies can negotiate lower prices from hospitals with the promise that they will be getting a larger share of the plan’s patients.

“It’s a key way to offer more affordable rates,” said Cynthia Michenerof Aetna, Coventry’s parent company.

The narrow networks have raised some concerns that health care quality will suffer and that there won’t be enough doctors or hospitals in the networks to serve all the new patients who enroll.

Spokespeople with Saint Luke’s Health System and HCA Midwest Health System, the two major health care providers excluded from lower-tier Obamacare plans, weren’t available for comment when contacted by Kansas Watchdog.

Contact Travis Perry at travis@kansaswatchdog.org, or follow him on Twitter at@muckraker62.

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