California's Health Exchange Removes Physician Directories Because of Errors

California's Health Exchange Removes Physician Directories Because of Errors

Due to a series of errors with the Covered California physician directories, the health exchange has pulled the lists down. Errors have included listing doctors speaking languages in which they were not fluent; Obstetricians somehow listed as Ophthalmologists; and doctors inaccurately listed under insurance plans that were not providing care at the doctor’s offices. The lists had previously been pulled last October, then revised and restored at the end of the year.

Jeff Rideout, a senior medical adviser for Covered California, said he thought the lists might be put up again, and added, “Until we know what’s causing these problems, the directories are probably better down than up.  These networks are very different, depending on which plan you choose. You have to pick the right plan to get the right hospitals and providers.”

Meanwhile, because of the hour-long delay in registering for the exchange, Covered California is hiring more than 350 workers to speed up the effort. A spokesperson for the California Medical Association said, “The burden now falls on the patients to have to call through every plan individually. It’s daunting for someone who now has to call through all these individual plans and find out if their current physician or physicians in their area are contracted or not.”

While the lists are down, enrollees have been instructed to contact the individual plans to find out which doctors can be used with their plans. They have until March 31 to either cancel their coverage or select another one.

The New York Times reported in January that problems such as California’s were occurring across the nation, writing, “In addition to the difficulties many face in proving they have coverage, patients are also having a hard time figuring out whether particular doctors are affiliated with their health insurance plan. Doctors themselves often do not know if they are in the network of providers for plans sold on the exchange.”