ACA Health Care Exchanges Limiting Access to Control Cost
Many Consumers May Lose Access to Current Doctors
(Washington, D.C.) – On October 1, enrollment is scheduled to begin nationwide for health insurance sold in exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act (also called the ACA or Obamacare). Under pressure to limit expected rate increases, many policies available in these exchanges will cut costs by limiting patient access to some physicians and medical facilities. By refusing to cover more expensive care in areas with a high cost of living, or at the most expensive hospitals, rate increases for consumers will be less dramatic. In California for example, major insurers "have sharply limited the number of doctors and hospitals available to patients" through exchange policies, according to the Los Angeles Times . This is likely to lead to longer wait times and a scarcity of specialists. In New Hampshire, policies sold on the exchange will not allow patients to access 10 of the state's 26 acute general care hospitals.
Because little information is currently available about policies and coverage options that most states will have available on their exchanges, it is currently impossible to be precise about how many consumers will see limited access. But according to an analysis by McKinsey, nearly half the exchange plans in 13 states will offer "narrow-networks," meaning consumers will have limited coverage or no coverage outside the plan network. For any consumers considering ACA insurance, it is important to carefully review health care choices before buying.
Daniel Garza, Executive Director of The LIBRE Initiative released the following statement:
"Less than two weeks from now, the Obama Administration hopes that millions of Americans will begin to sign up for health insurance under the President's health care law. Millions of Americans will be surprised to find that they are paying more for care, since the White House imposed a series of costly mandates on all plans sold in the ACA exchanges. Now we are seeing that they may also lose access to preferred physicians, as many of the plans offered have cut costs by limiting access to popular doctors and medical centers.
Real health reform should allow people who are happy with their plans and doctors to keep them – not force them to pay for something the government believes is 'better' against their will. It should increase choice and competition, so consumers have better options. It should strengthen the doctor-patient relationship – not break it. It is time for Congress and the President to replace this law with genuine, bipartisan patient-centered reform."