When it came to selling Obamacare, President Obama frequently made the claim that if people liked their doctor, they could keep their doctor. However, the incentives built into Obamacare mean that is not true for a lot of people, even those who bought insurance.
Many who purchased new plans this year discovered their network did not include their old physician. Those who realized the problem before the enrollment deadline could attempt to switch plans to one that did include their old provider. However, those who did not realize they had a problem before March 31 are stuck until next year. If they want to see their doctor out-of-network, they will pay a lot more.
San Diego insurance agent Craig Gussin describes to HT.com a “mad dash” to switch people from one plan to another before the March31 deadline left them stranded without access to their doctor. ButGussin was not able to help everyone in time. A handful of his clientswere unable to move to a network that included their doctor before thedeadline. He told the Associated Press, “Everybody I talk to is having the same issue. It’s probably the No. 1 item that we’re seeing right now.”
The situation is the result of smaller networks which many insurers moved toward this year in order to make their Obamacare exchange prices cost-competitive. Because Obamacare mandates that all plans have minimum coverage guarantees, insurers could not compete over what was covered. Instead, they were forced to compete over the size of networks.
Obamacare navigator John Foley says part of the problem is people’s misconception that Obamacare is supposed to be free. Foley says, “For a couple more dollars a month you can get a really good plan, andthey’re like, ‘This is free. I don’t want to pay for this.'”