KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Plan Narrow Networks To Continue In 2015

The Los Angeles Times reports that, for Californians, the state's largest insurers are likely to stick with, or even reduce, the size of their doctor networks for the upcoming plan season. Additionally, no comprehensive directory is available to help consumers match their physicians with their health plans. Meanwhile, The Washington Post also explores how the issue is playing out in the context of a ballot initiative.  

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Doctor Networks To Stay Limited In 2015
Finding a doctor who takes Obamacare coverage could be just as frustrating for Californians in 2015 as the health-law expansion enters its second year. The state's largest health insurers are sticking with their often-criticized narrow networks of doctors, and in some cases they are cutting the number of physicians even more, according to a Times analysis of company data. And the state's insurance exchange, Covered California, still has no comprehensive directory to help consumers match doctors with health plans. This comes as insurers prepare to enroll hundreds of thousands of new patients this fall and get 1.2 million Californians to renew their policies under the Affordable Care Act (Terhune, Poindexter and Smith 9/28).

The Washington Post: Should You Be Able To Choose Any Doctor You Want?
People don't like being told "no," especially when it comes to something as personal as their health care. They also don't like rising health-care costs. And therein lies the health-care system's existential debate about narrow networks. Narrow networks, which place greater limits on patients' choice of care providers, aren't new, but they're emerging as one of insurers' major levers for keeping down costs under the Affordable Care Act. ... In just a few weeks, voters in South Dakota will actually get to weigh in on this question, thanks to a ballot initiative that would require health plans in the state to include any provider that meets their standards and wants in (Millman, 9/26).

In related news -

The New York Times: Costs Can Go Up Fast When E.R. Is In Network But The Doctors Are Not
But even the most basic visits with emergency room physicians and other doctors called in to consult are increasingly leaving patients with hefty bills: More and more, doctors who work in emergency rooms are private contractors who are out of network or do not accept any insurance plans (Rosenthal, 9/28).

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