Under Obamacare, you are about to have your healthcare restricted to a 'narrow network'

Thursday, January 16, 2014 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: Obamacare, narrow network, healthcare restrictions

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(NaturalNews) There are so many details packed into the government's takeover of one-sixth of the U.S. economy - otherwise known as Obamacare - that nary a week goes by when Americans don't learn something new about the massive, 2,700-page law.

What's more, because of the law's expansive regulations, President Obama's many (unconstitutional) delays of certain politically unpopular parts of the law and the Department of Health and Human Services' often murky interpretations of its provisions, implementation of Obamacare has been dicey, confusing, frustrating and incomplete.

Remember, Obamacare is all about control

Now, as the Washington Post reports, many Americans will soon suddenly discover that their healthcare access will be limited or restricted to a "narrow network":

"Surprise! Kentucky health exchange networks may exclude your hospital," reads one recent headline in the Louisville Courier Journal. Or, as Time magazine puts it, "Keeping your doctor under Obamacare is no easy feat."

Behind these stories lurks a policy idea that's central to Obamacare's approach to controlling costs, but anathema to many health-care consumers: "Narrow networks."

Did you read that? Obamacare - besides facilitating the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the nation (http://www.nationaljournal.com) - is all about controlling costs. Which, in essence, is about controlling you, just like I said several months ago: NaturalNews.com.

But this was part of the Obamacare plan all along. It's too bad that more Americans didn't require our elected leaders to read the massive bill before voting on it - or, better yet, leave our healthcare alone in the first place.

As the Post's Sarah Kliff further notes:

Just the name itself, a narrow network, sounds like a miserable, restrictive health plan that you would just as well avoid. But health-care experts love narrow networks, pointing out that they underpin some of the country's most successful health plans.

But what is "successful" for "health plans" is not always considered "successful" by the plan holder.

Still, what exactly is a narrow network? Kliff writes that they are health insurance plans that put limits (do you like that word?) on the number of doctors and hospitals that are available to plan holders (remember "if you like your doctor..."?).

Narrow network plans accomplish this in a couple of ways. First, and perhaps the most obvious way, is by not paying for trips to doctors who are outside the restricted narrow network. A second way this is accomplished is by health insurance plans charging higher co-pays to see a physician or provider who is not in the "top tier." In such cases, Kliff writes, "you can go out-of-network - but [you] will have to pay a higher price in order to do so."

Zero-sum game

By limiting the number of doctors and hospitals in a plan, insurers can typically keep premiums lower. But how much lower? And is it enough to warrant you losing your doctor of many years? That's a question that each individual policyholder will have to answer.

Granted, as Kliff notes, Obamacare did not "create" narrow networks - they have been a trend in healthcare for several years, growing from 15 percent of the insurance plans offered by employers in 2007 to 23 percent in 2012. However, Obamacare is certainly accelerating the trend:

[I]nsurance plans that work with a smaller handful of providers would have more leverage to demand even lower prices from these hospitals and doctors. They're essentially promising to buy in bulk from a small set of physicians, and can therefore reduce the cost they pay for each visit. That, then, allows them to offer lower premiums to the people buying health insurance.

But you still have less choice. And less choice for you means more control for the insurance company - and the government.

What's a better solution? How about getting Uncle Sam out of the healthcare industry altogether? Free markets would do precisely what "narrow networks" seek to accomplish: lower costs. Only, in a free market, costs would be lowered through competition between physician's groups and hospitals; under the narrow networks concept, prices are lowered through "negotiation," meaning they might be artificially lower, which results in the participating physician's groups and hospitals scrambling to find other ways to make up the lost revenue.

Zero-sum game.





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