Mortgaging the Future: The Price of Keeping your Doctor

It’s come to this, a family forced to choose between keeping their trusted doctor of 15 years or paying for their child’s education. But, that is the new healthcare reality for one California family discovering the true cost of Obamacare.

“We learned our annual healthcare cost was increasing by $5,000. Five thousand dollars! We attended a ‘healthcare fair’ put on by my husband’s employer to compare insurance costs and services. We were told in no uncertain terms that the reason our annual costs had gone up was because of Obamacare and the uncertainty surrounding it. As our daughter was going to be entering college the following fall, we could not afford the enormous annual increase and were forced to choose a different provider. With the selection of the new provider, we lost our family doctor of 15 years and had to select, at random, another physician. Our annual healthcare costs have continued to rise. We now have the added concern of my husband being retired and on a fixed income,” shared Shawn.

Before all the mandates and healthcare mayhem, families like Shawn’s were able to keep their doctor without breaking the bank. Part of the reason is that insurers are narrowing networks to offset the costs of complying with Obamacare, so they can keep their plans competitive. While some like Karen Pollitz , former HHS employee and now senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation, believe this is simply market competition, others are not buying it.

“We are frustrated that the President’s promise that we could keep our provider and doctor was a LIE – that is, unless we wanted to pay FIVE THOUSAND dollars extra per year! We had to choose between sending our daughter to college and having a healthcare provider we prefer. It’s shameful that the best healthcare in the world has come to this,” Shawn exclaimed.

For those hoping for the return of the good old days, keep wishing. A study by McKinsey, featured in a recent Time article, believes this could be the new future trend.

“A recent study suggests limited provider networks could become more common in the years ahead as the ACA takes hold. A Dec. 13 McKinsey study of 20 U.S. metropolitan areas found that two-thirds of ACA plans analyzed had “narrow” or “ultra narrow” networks, with at least 30 percent of top 20 hospitals excluded for coverage. The medium premium for plans with narrower networks, according to the study, was 26 percent lower than comparable benefit packages with broad networks.”

 Interestingly, patients aren’t the only ones venting over this as noted in the article.

 “We’re very concerned with the impact that has on patients,” says Cedars-Sinai CEO Thomas Priselac, arguing that consumers shopping through California’s exchange will not have access to the world-renowned health care the hospital offers. Priselac says some insurers designing networks purely based on cost have replaced academic research institutions like Cedars-Sinai with lower-priced community hospitals that, in some cases, do not offer the same menu of services.”

For Shawn and her family, it’s just not the same.

“Every time I have to go to the doctor, I’m just angered all over again. I lost my doctor, and now I have to go to this person I don’t even know. I don’t have any relationship with them. The whole way that they operated is different from my doctor,” she pointed out.

Sure, you can keep your doctor… if you can afford it.