As Robert Laszewski has observed, the health care media has been obsessed with whether or not premiums in the ObamaCare exchanges will produce “rate shock.” They have completely ignored the more likely source of discomfort — especially for people used to employer plans that allow access to almost any doctor or hospital.
The big surprise here will be that in many states that second-lowest cost plan [the one that qualifies for a full subsidy] will be a narrow-network plan with significant limits on which providers the consumer can go to. In fact, in many cases, the narrow-network plan will look very much like a Medicaid network.
In California, for example, the Blue Shield exchange offering is limited to 24,000 doctors compared to the standard Blue Shield network that covers 64,000 docs.
The lowest cost California plan comes from insurer Health Net. The LA Times is reporting that Health Net is offering, “less than half what some other companies are offering in Southern California.” The Times reports that Health Net is limiting its network to one-third its usual employer network. In San Diego, the company will only have 204 primary care physicians in its network.
In New Hampshire, the sole health plan offered on the exchange is a WellPoint plan, which will cover only 14 of 26 state hospitals and 65% of the normal physician network.