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.
Insurers, ranging from national behemoths like WellPoint, UnitedHealth and Aetna to much smaller local carriers, are fully embracing the idea, saying narrower networks are essential to controlling costs and managing care. Major players contend they can avoid the uproar that crippled a similar push in the 1990s.
What’s this? Obamacare limits doctor and hospital options? Ya don’t say.
Hate to say we Toldjah So, NYT, but …
Runner up for today’s “quote of the day” was in the very next paragraph of the NYT piece:
“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.”
Got that? “Choice” and a desire for “open access” are habits we must break. Guess insurers have adopted the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality when it comes to the realities of the so-called “Affordable Care Act.” Oh well, when your choices are, um, limited in that regard ….