Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Monday, December 9th, 2013.

Crocodile Tears

Health Care

An article in the Financial Times warns us of a shortcoming in policies purchased through the insurance exchanges:

Amid a drive by insurers to limit costs, the majority of insurance plans being sold on the new healthcare exchanges in New York, Texas, and California, for example, will not offer patients’ access to Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan or MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, two top cancer centres, or Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, one of the top research and teaching hospitals in the country. …

…It could become another source of political controversy for the Obama administration next year, when the plans take effect. Frustrated consumers could then begin to realise what is not always evident when buying a product as complicated as healthcare insurance: that their new plans do not cover many facilities or doctors “in network”. In other words, the facilities and doctors are not among the list of approved providers in a certain plan.

(I had to check to be sure the article was written recently, and not in the 1990s, when “networked” policies were the new new thing. Yep, the date on it is December 8, 2013.)

OK, so the concern here is that people buying insurance through the exchanges, the majority of whom have no isurance whatsoever now, will not have access to some big-name facilities, which they don’t have access to now, either. Also, people might have to get used to dealing with “networked” health care, which apparently will be a new experience for lots of people even though the majority of us have been limited to some network or another for at least the past 20 years. Is that the issue?

Elsewhere, righties are snarking because the cheapest exchange policies come with high deductibles. These are the same people who have touted high-deductible policies as the answer to affordable insurance for years.

Many of these crocodile tears are being shed by people who’ve been on employee-paid group plans all their lives and have no idea how much insurance really costs. Ryan Cooper writes that maybe members of Congress will learn something —

Right now, one of the primary ways Congressional Republicans are attacking Obamacare is to cite the sob stories of Congressional staffers — and lawmakers themselves — who are having a bad experience with the law. Thanks to a bit of Republican legislative trolling that forced Members and their staffs onto the exchanges to make a political point, some are discovering that premiums are higher than they would have expected, having previously enjoyed the protection of government benefits that essentially shielded them from reality.

But if anything, the fact that Members of Congress are now having an unpleasant brush with the American health care system is a good thing. These Members are experiencing the same American health care system that the uninsured and people with preexisting conditions have been experiencing for many years. They are being forced to face the fact that American health care costs a lot, which, of course, is one of the reasons reform is so hard.

I say they won’t learn a damn thing. They’ll just assume everything was fine before the ACA passed.

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