Obamacare might not let you keep your doctor or your existing healthcare provider network after all.
For a reasonably healthy person, this may not be a big deal. In some instances, a new doctor might be a positive. But for someone being treated by specialists, it could a major disruption or worse.
In what has developed into a major, ongoing controversy, President Obama repeatedly declared “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” when he was selling healthcare reform via the Affordable Care Act to the American people.
He also vowed that “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”
Keeping their plan has not held true for those who formerly bought their coverage on the individual market. Many of these plans have canceled. Tens of thousands of insurance seekers have already discovered in this very confusing insurance marketplace that replacement plans cost more (if they don’t want or qualify for a subsidy), have higher deductibles, and exclude their healthcare providers from the approved Obamacare network.
This could change over time, but right now, substantial numbers of doctors have declined to go into the Obamacare exchanges.
Next fall, immediately prior to when the postponed employer mandate kicks in, millions of workers who receive employer-based coverage will encounter the same issues. More consumers may wind up paying more for replacements insurance plans and, if they want to continue with their existing provider network, also be forced to pay those doctors in cash out of pocket if those physicians, including specialists, or facilities are not part of the Obamacare exchanges.
It is somewhat analogous perhaps to a family living in a town with an underperforming school system.. If, for example, they opt out of public school for their kids, they also have to come up with private school tuition on their own or do home schooling. No matter what, they have to pay property tax that goes to the public school system.
When questioned by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Obamacare “architect” Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel’s brother) admitted that the president promised the American people that they keep their doctor but added a new footnote that the president “didn’t say you could have unlimited choice.”
During the contentious back and forth, when Wallace noted that “the president guaranteed me that I could keep my doctor,” Emanuel responded that “And if you want to, you can pay for it.”
The implication is that if you can’t afford it, you’re on your own under the Affordable Care Act.
Pre-Obamacare, there was obviously a lot of room for improvement in both the healthcare insurance system and the healthcare delivery system.
That being said, Obamacare was supposed to lower health insurance premiums by up to $2500 a year, according to an additional promise made by its advocates.