Monday, February 10, 2014

Narrow Networks

Patients are starting to feel the pinch from ObamaCare's "narrow networks".  Two recent stories:
Los Angeles Times: "Obamacare enrollees hit snags at doctor's offices"

Megan McArdle: "'Doc Shock' Reaches the Masses" (2/6/2014)
These narrow networks will also have a less-obvious effect on doctors, as I noted in my recent Forbes piece on the new ethical pressures on physicians caused by ObamaCare:
To cut costs, many ObamaCare exchange plans also require “narrow networks” of providers, where patients may only receive treatment from a short list of approved hospitals and doctors. President Obama has repeatedly promised, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” but many patients are learning the hard way that this isn’t true.

Such “narrow networks” also mean that many doctors will lose long-standing relationships with patients they’ve seen for years. Instead, doctors will be increasingly reliant on the government-run exchanges for new patients. This will create a powerful incentive for physicians to adhere to any treatment guidelines mandated by the government or by government-approved insurance plans.
Megan McArdle predicts that political pressures will cause insurers to loosen these narrow networks.  But then patients will have to pay higher premiums, instead.  Either way, patients will be paying some unpleasant price for this form of "universal" health care.