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Some covered by individual insurance policies will have limited choices for doctors, hospitals...
The Post and Courier ^ | October 16, 2013 | Lauren Sausser

Posted on 10/16/2013 11:44:04 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

Lowcountry residents shopping for a new health insurance plan with coverage starting Jan. 1 may be forced to choose between their preferred insurance company and their preferred doctor or hospital.

That’s because individual plans purchased through the new federal health insurance marketplace, and even some plans bought outside the marketplace, will have fewer in-network providers than many patients are accustomed to.

“Who you can go to will change dramatically, and a lot of people don’t realize that,” said Colin Smoak, a Charleston benefits consultant. “A lot of people have developed relationships with physicians or a hospital and may have to forgo that relationship.”

Here’s an example — neither Medical University Hospital nor Roper St. Francis Healthcare are included in the provider networks for new individual policies offered by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, the largest private insurer in the state.

‘A lot of caution’

For most South Carolinians, this isn’t a problem. The majority of residents, who already have insurance, are covered by large or small group plans offered through work and won’t lose access to their doctor or hospital, said S.C. Department of Insurance Director Ray Farmer.

“Generally, the employer plans that are in place now will remain basically the same as they are, but they could change in the future,” Farmer said.

The immediate changes will affect those residents who aren’t insured through work and need to purchase health coverage to avoid a $95 penalty mandated under the federal Affordable Care Act.

For example, Lowcountry residents who want to buy an individual insurance policy and would like full access to the Roper St. Francis Healthcare network of doctors and hospitals need to pick a plan offered by Coventry Health Care of the Carolinas, or be willing to pay higher out-of-pocket costs.

Coventry, which is owned by Aetna, is the only health insurance company that Roper St. Francis Healthcare chose to partner with for these new individual policies.

“We did not come to terms with any of those other companies,” said Bret Johnson, senior vice president and chief financial officer at Roper St. Francis Healthcare.

“One of the reasons government is shut down today is there is still a battle going on about health care reform,” he said. “There is a lot of caution both among providers and insurance companies until the horizon becomes a bit more clear.”

Medicare patients and patients covered by group plans with current access to the Roper St. Francis Healthcare network have not been affected by these negotiations and can continue to see their regular providers next year.

‘Thin network’

Four insurance companies — Coventry, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Blue Choice and Consumer’s Choice Health Plan — are offering 52 plans for South Carolinians to purchase through the federal insurance marketplace, which launched Oct. 1. Eight companies are offering individual plans outside the marketplace.

A flawed website and higher-than-expected web traffic have made it very difficult for nearly everyone trying to sign on to for the past two weeks.

Jim Herritage, 64, of Mount Pleasant, tried using the website to pick a policy but decided to seek help from an insurance agent after unsuccessful attempts to create an account and log on.

Herritage, an energy consultant, and his wife, Nancy, make too much to qualify for government subsidies to help pay for a plan, so avoiding and using an agent instead was an easy choice. Individuals who earn between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level will qualify for a government subsidy to offset the cost of insurance, but they must enroll through to take advantage of that assistance.

“I think what we’ll end up doing is purchasing a BlueCross BlueShield plan ... because if something happens, we obviously need that coverage,” Herritage said.

But the plan Herritage wants to purchase won’t cover benefits provided by many of the doctors his family already sees.

“Nancy’s OB-GYN and dermatologist and our primary care physicians, we’ll just have to pay them ourselves,” he said. “The big wakeup call is when people realize this is a very, very thin network.”

Attention to details

Consumer’s Choice Health Plan offers policies that include benefits provided by Trident Medical Center, Summerville Medical Center, Medical University Hospital and East Cooper Medical Center.

Individuals plans sold by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and Blue Choice include access to the Trident Health hospitals and East Cooper Medical Center.

Every plan will not offer benefits at every facility, and consumers are advised to pay attention to their preferred policy’s details.

“More than likely, the doctors associated with the hospital are in the network, but they need to check,” said Consumer’s Choice spokeswoman Adrian Grimes.

Farmer said his agency recommends that residents review the plan’s benefits, review its provider network, shop for the best price and then choose a policy.

“This is a whole new ball game that the plans and the networks are changing,” he said.

Insurance companies can no longer minimize their risk by denying coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions or charging women more than men for insurance. The Affordable Care Act rewrote some of these old rules.

Insurance companies are adjusting to federal law by narrowing their provider networks, Smoak said. “That’s their only control point.”

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government; US: South Carolina
KEYWORDS: medicine; obamacare; socializedmedicine; southcarolina
“But we have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what’s in it....” ~Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
1 posted on 10/16/2013 11:44:05 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

She should have to pay for what she did. How can these people get away with this. I don’t get it.

2 posted on 10/16/2013 11:47:23 PM PDT by funfan
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To: funfan

She’ll “pay” for it, all right, with a huge pension, a Rolls-Royce level health plan at no charge, speaking fees in the six and seven figures, honorary degrees, awards, etc. Is that what you meant?

3 posted on 10/16/2013 11:51:35 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (You can't invade the mainland US There'd be a rifle behind every blade of grass.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Not exactly besides she has that already she is a very rich woman.

4 posted on 10/17/2013 12:08:47 AM PDT by funfan
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

There are other issues that are not quite so obvious yet. Had a patient this week who works in Texas but his company was recently bought out by a company in NC so he was placed on the NC policy. His premiums, deductible and out-of-pocket expenses are a lot higher with BC of NC than under his old coverage. Lot of plans in Texas just don’t cover all the stuff that some other states do which does drive up cost.

Aetna and Coventry may operate under the Aetna umbrella but they have different provider networks. Coventry’s contract rates for doctors are pathetic so Aetna providers are saying no thanks to the Conventry patients.

This entire thing could not be more of a disaster for everyone.

5 posted on 10/17/2013 12:25:25 AM PDT by Grams A (The Sun will rise in the East in the morning and God is still on his throne.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

The number of us doctors in general will be reducing over time as well, a process well under way.

I’m about the last man standing in my specialty, certainly the last one board certified and the last one still taking new private patients in an area with a 250,000 population. And I’m now positioned to go semi-Galt as soon as the mood strikes me, a mood which rapidly approaches.

Also, when most plans/policies are talking about “doctors” they are actually referring to “providers,” a fuzzy, much broader term which now also includes increasing numbers of non-doctors who have been granted “prescriptive authority” by the states. John Q. Public often thinks these people know what they are doing, but John Q. Public also thought Obama would be a good President. Twice. The John Qs will get what they bargained for, but unfortunately so will a bunch of innocent victims, and no one will care about their laments.

“I shall have less to say, but I shall be gone.”

6 posted on 10/17/2013 12:37:52 AM PDT by dagogo redux (A whiff of primitive spirits in the air, harbingers of an impending descent into the feral.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Haven’t seen this discussed anywhere yet, but the implication is there: As the networks get “thinner”, and the number of companies is reduced, and docs drop out of the practice, at some point, we’re going to see areas where new clients keep signing up but there are no more docs available to take patients. How will that work?

7 posted on 10/17/2013 1:45:56 AM PDT by Little Pig (Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici.)
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To: Little Pig
Barefoot doctors, NPs and LPNs is my guess. Just like Cuba and Venezuela.
8 posted on 10/17/2013 1:59:29 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (You can't invade the mainland US There'd be a rifle behind every blade of grass.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

My wife is quitting her job at the end of the year. It is our source of health care insurance. After that, I figure we will never have health insurance again (I’m an IT contractor).

But I can live with that. After all, if one of us gets something really expensive, we just buy health care insurance then. ;-)

9 posted on 10/17/2013 4:09:42 AM PDT by cuban leaf
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

10 posted on 10/17/2013 4:12:15 AM PDT by Travis McGee (
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
 photo ObamaCareDeadEnd_zps40da37e0.jpg
11 posted on 10/17/2013 5:27:28 AM PDT by HotHunt
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To: funfan

She should have to visit a proctologist to remove that giant gavel - that would be justice.

12 posted on 10/17/2013 5:28:49 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.
If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.

So, lefties, was he blatantly lying,
or is he STOOOOOPID?
It has to be one or the other or both.

(we would say both)

13 posted on 10/17/2013 5:30:23 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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