Chris Woodward   ( Thursday, August 07, 2014

A health policy analyst says reports of doctors refusing ObamaCare patients are true.

News of doctors refusing people with health insurance purchased from exchanges has been reported on NPR, The Daily Caller and elsewhere. The issue is that ObamaCare plans pay so little that physicians and doctors say they can't accept patients with those types of plans.

Hadley Heath Manning, Director of Health Policy at the Independent Women's Forum, says that doctors recognized this problem when ObamaCare plans were first introduced.

"Because of the lower reimbursement rates, some insurance industry officials began calling the ObamaCare exchange plans Medicaid-plus at the time when they debuted in the marketplaces or exchanges," she tells OneNewsNow. 

Manning says this is especially a problem for private practices.

"Doctors who work in larger provider groups or hospital settings may not notice this as acutely as doctors who own their own private practices, because those physicians are also operating as small businessmen,” she says. “So they see the backside of this equation. When ObamaCare limits the ability of insurance companies to rate their products according to risk, those insurance companies have to do something else to balance out the equation."

What insurance companies are doing is limiting the number of doctors they include in a network and offering lower reimbursement rates to those doctors.

=While Manning says we may see the entire system "find some new equilibrium in the long run," she is concerned that more consolidation in the health care industry may mean fewer doctors or practices, leaving consumers with fewer options.

Yevgeniy Feyman, another health policy analyst at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, says the refusal of some healthcare plans by doctors is nothing new, but he thinks it should direct greater focus on ways to increase consumer transparency.

"Doctors always refuse some type of insurance,” he says. “It's not really new here. People are getting hit a little harder with it because a lot of them weren't expecting that these plans would be narrow networks where they only have a limited number of doctors who accept them. So what it really should make us focus on is how to increase consumer transparency."

Feyman says a lot of people don't know about narrow networks, nor do they know how to find out which doctors are included in their plans.

"Going forward I think it's going to be harder for companies to maintain these plans that have narrow networks,” he tells OneNewsNow. “People aren't going to really be happy with that. What's going to happen, then, is premiums are going to go up because they're going to have to broaden their networks, or we're going to need significant changes to the law."