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Insurance fails to be enough to find doctors

Navigating through the imbroglio of the Obamacare website may be nothing compared to finding a doctor willing to take your new insurance plan or overcoming the roadblocks at the doctor's office. According to a new report from the Los Angeles Times, it has only been a month since the “most sweeping changes to healthcare in half a century,” but patients across California and much of the United States are likely to have difficulty finding a doctor or getting help from insurers to understand the new process.



Experts have suggested for months that trouble was to be expected, although doctor and patients seem surprised by the extent of the problems. Misinformation is also common. The LA Times reports that one patient in California had been told over six times that her oncologists would accept her new policy but was later shocked when she went to the doctor’s office and they told her Covered California plans are not accepted.

Why has this happened?


 

While the president promised the moon, major insurers warned they would not be able to keep premiums affordable without cutting the number of doctors and hospitals available to patients in the state's new health insurance market.

So as more and more consumer complaints about limited access to medical providers reaches state officials, no one is quite sure how serious the problem actually might be. According to California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, "There are a lot of economic incentives for health insurers to narrow their networks, but if they go too far, people won't have access to care. Network adequacy will be a big issue in 2014."

Experts suggest these issues could not come at a worse time for the president as government officials work feverishly to make Obama's signature law successful by pushing enrollment by the young and healthy. Regardless of how hard they work, complaints abound.

Are the problems of getting a doctor new?


 

Complaints about doctors refusing certain provider plans has always existed, however, even before Obamacare was enacted. But what has many frustrated is the extent of the problem, which experts blame on cost-cutting strategies of health plans and the increase of newly insured patients who are trying to find doctors.

Many of those patients trying to find medical care are the most desperate. Many have been uninsured for years and are now trying to find coverage for preexisting conditions that may have been untreated or were too costly to treat in the past. Many have also been offered government subsidies to get medical care.

While it’s exciting for these patients to have the opportunity to get good medical care, it doesn’t matter if they have insurance if they cannot find a doctor. Some have started referring to their healthcare exchanges as “phantom networks” which exist but have few physicians who are serving certain geographic areas.

What do the insurance agents say?


 

Insurance agencies argue that with any substantial changes patients should expect issues, but the issues will eventually be resolved. The question remains, however, whether government regulators and patient advocates will get what they want- tougher rules to ensure health plans provide timely access to care- or patients will simply have to tough it out.
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