Ezekiel Emanuel: If You Like Your Doctor You Can Pay More to Keep Him
Sunday morning Ezekiel Emanuel appeared on Fox News Sunday and had an enlightening exchange with Chris Wallace about one of the President's signature Obamacare promises.
Wallace pressed Emanuel on the President's promised that "if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor." Eventually, Emanuel responded "If you want to pay more for an insurance company that covers your doctor, you can do that."
While it is strictly true that President Obama never said you could keep your doctor at the same cost, most Americans would probably be surprised to learn that he left out this critical bit of information. But that is the only conclusion one can draw from Emanuel's statement, i.e. the President was aware of what was coming and chose to mislead the country rather than inform them.
As health insurance expert Bob Laszewki pointed out last month, the move toward smaller provider networks was entirely predictable under the design of the law.
Under Obamacare, insurers can no longer offer a wide variety of health
insurance products in the individual health market––a good thing when it
gets rid of the worst of the health plans out there but not such a good
thing when it gets rid of the many policies people could choose and
have liked and are now mad about losing. Now, all health plans have to
fit into four strict boxes: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. And,
these boxes can only differ by out-of-pocket costs––not benefits.
So, if a health plan can no longer vary its benefit choices, how can it distinguish itself on price?
A big variable therefore becomes the provider network.
Sure enough, insurers are now excluding doctors and even entire hospitals from their network as a way to lower prices. All of this was predictable and yet the President failed to mention this rather significant caveat to his promise.
One way to summarize Emanuel's claim would be this: The President's promise wasn't a lie because it was a carefully crafted attempt to mislead the public. It's hard to believe this kind of Clintonian parsing is going to help the President on questions of honesty and trustworthiness.