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Many consumers left in the cold after ACA health plans shift

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Brian Stentz
Life insurance without a medical exam can be a risky proposition - but do buyers know?
Life insurance without a medical exam can be a risky proposition - but do buyers know?

One of President Barack Obama's promises related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was that if you like your plan, you can keep it.  However, that doesn't seem to be the case as many people across the country are now saying that the doctors they used to see, because the practices were covered under their health plans, are no longer available to them, according to a report from USA Today. A large number of physicians of all specialties may have shifted out of old types of coverage and into new ones, leaving people on the hook for potentially large costs associated with just one visit.

Consumer advocates say this relates to the ways in which health insurers are changing offerings under the ACA, in an attempt to accommodate the large and growing number of people who have insurance, the report said. However, that also seems to limit their options when choosing a doctor. In addition, those experts believe that many people might not have been fully aware of the policy changes they may have been facing.

What might be done?
Because this seems to be a problem for plans obtained through the Healthcare.gov or state-run websites in particular, many lawmakers at both the state and federal levels now appear to be considering legislative action that would mandate more rigidity when it comes to ensuring people have access to the doctors they've been using for at least a year. On the other hand, Robert Laszewski, an industry consultant and former insurance executive, said that the limited choices are often the result of insurance companies trying to do as much as possible to accommodate low-income consumers who aren't paying a lot for their plans in the first place. In fact, they often pay far less than the market rate for similar coverage and having access to some doctors may be seen as being better than none at all.

Insurance companies, though, might have to do more to strike a balance between being cost-effective and still helping consumers meet their personal health care goals as reasonably as possible. In fact, those who are successful in such pursuits might have an easier time retaining old clients and attracting new ones.



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