Skip to comments.Some South Florida docs decline to accept Obamacare
Posted on 07/13/2014 6:42:02 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
After being without health insurance for two years, Miranda Childe of Hallandale Beach found a plan she could afford with financial aid from the government using the Affordable Care Acts exchange.
Childe, 60, bought an HMO plan from Humana, one of the nations largest health insurance companies, and received a membership card in time for her coverage to kick in on May 1st.
But instead of being able to pick a primary care physician to coordinate her healthcare, Childe says she repeatedly ran into closed doors from South Florida doctors who are listed in her plans provider network but refused to see patients who bought their coverage on the ACA exchange.
I just felt that I wasnt being treated like a first-class citizen, said Childe, who eventually found a doctor with the help of a Humana counselor. Nobody, I dont care what kind of degrees they have, should ever be treated that way.
Nearly one million Floridians enrolled in a private health plan through the ACA exchange but some, like Childe, are finding that some physicians refuse to honor their coverage even when the doctors are included in the plans provider network.
Some physicians say theyre concerned they wont be paid for their services by either the insurer or the patient, and that insurers are not adequately informing doctors of their inclusion in exchange plan networks.
You dont want to be in a situation where you provide service, and turn around and theres no contract in place to reimburse you, said Jay Millson, executive vice president of the Florida Academy of Family Physicians.
For some patients, though, the elation they felt about being insured has been tempered with rejection at doctors offices.
Sal Morales, 48, of Kendall, said a physician and her staff humiliated him when he tried to make an appointment at her Hialeah office earlier this year.
They made me feel really bad, said Morales, who bought a Florida Blue plan in March and qualified for subsidies to help pay his monthly premium and out-of-pocket costs. I felt, seriously, like I had a horrible disease that they couldnt, or wouldnt, or didnt want to cure, or at least see and examine.
Morales, who lost his employer-provided health insurance in October when he was laid off from his job as a TV producer, said he has been turned away by at least three primary care physicians who are in his plans provider network.
I actually went to a doctor, he said, and in the lobby they had an 11-by-14-inch sign in bright yellow that said, We do not accept anything from the marketplace [Obamacare].
But Morales said the worst experience was standing by at another doctors office as the receptionist called Florida Blue to verify his coverage.
They got into a screaming match, he said, with the receptionist, a lab technician and even the doctor and me at the dividing wall, listening to all this, with about 17 patients in that little room listening to the fact that I had what I thought was the worst insurance on the face of the earth.
This person kept saying that they were not going to be taking any Obamacare insurance because they will never get paid, he said.
Morales said he stood his ground, and finally got an appointment. But he chose not to return after that experience.
He said he finally found a doctor he likes, near his home in Kendall, and saw him for the first time July 1 four months after his insurance took effect.
Morales said his new doctor doesnt make him feel like a second-class citizen and that is important to me because regardless of where that insurance comes from, I still pay $145 [monthly premium].
Health plans that consumers buy on the ACA exchange are private insurance, even for consumers who receive federal government subsidies.
Its unknown how many of the 983,775 Floridians who selected a private plan have been turned away by doctors in their network but Floridas Department of Financial Services reported receiving 63 complaints from consumers who bought a plan on the ACA exchange but could not get in to see a physician in their network.
Childe said she complained to the state and to her congresswoman, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who chairs the Democratic National Committee.
Wasserman Schultz issued a statement Friday saying she has heard from a couple of constituents about this issue. My staff has raised it with the Department of Health and Human Services as well as directly with some of the insurance companies. ... I believe the onus is on the insurers and the providers to bridge this gap and provide reliable, consistent customer service.
Bernd Wollschlaeger, a family physician in Aventura, said his contracts with insurers require him to see members from all of that insurers plans unless the agreement cites an exclusion.
Once youre a provider for an insurance company, he said, you cannot discriminate.
Wollschlaeger said he does not ask his patients where they bought their health insurance. But, he added, on occasion some insurers have delayed reimbursements for patients who bought their plans on the ACA exchange because the companies were waiting for the patient to pay their share of the bill.
But its not significant for my cash flow, Wollschlaeger said of those experiences, nor did I see any systematic effort by insurance companies to delay payment until the patient pays.
Wollschlaeger, a past president of the Dade County Medical Association the largest group representing physicians in the area said many doctors were opposed to the Affordable Care Act from the outset.
There was a strong opposition, specifically by physicians in Florida, he said, adding that even though it has simmered down a bit, whether out of resignation or exhaustion, there is an underlying resentment.
Wollschlaeger said he supports the ACA, but expects it will evolve to address issues such as physician payment rates by insurers.
Hes also an advocate of educating consumers about their health plans, particularly those who may not have been insured before and might believe that their only obligation is the monthly premium.
They have financial responsibility, Wollschlaeger said. Its not a free-for-all.
Eduardo Martinez, an internist and vice president of the Dade Medical Association, said doctors in private practice sometimes dont have the resources to verify a patients benefits, or to be burdened with collecting high deductibles from patients.
Martinez said his office staff has spent as much as 35 minutes on the phone trying to verify a patients benefits under an ACA exchange plan, and, he said, you dont always get the correct information.
To be able to see a patient, it costs money, he said. So its easier to kind of avoid those patients because you dont know if youre going to get paid or not, and yet you have to pay your employees, and you have to pay your light.
A 20 percent drop in cash flow for one week, Martinez said, could mean a physician in private practice goes out of business the following week.
Nobody wants to take a chance, he said.
Even more vexing, Martinez said, doctors wrestle with the question of how to plan for an ACA exchange patients care while uncertain about that patients ability to meet a high deductible or co-payments.
How do I plan for a patient who needs to have surgery thats a large amount of money, he said. Who do I send him to? Which of my colleagues do I refer him to knowing that my colleague is going to take a financial hit? The whole chain of services gets affected.
Martinez said physicians also are wary of the so-called 90-day grace period for consumers who dont pay their premiums on time.
Under the federal rule, insurers are required to pay for any claims filed during the first 30 days of the grace period. But theyre allowed to hold any claims filed during the second and third months, and may deny those claims if the member doesnt make the missed payment leaving the doctor with a debt.
Not all physicians are worried about liability, though. Some may simply be confused about their inclusion in an ACA exchange provider network because they dont realize their contracts say they will participate in all of the insurers current and future products, said Jeff Scott, general counsel for the Florida Medical Association, which represents more than 20,000 physicians on legislative and policy issues.
Insurers also have been using whats known as a silent amendment, when company changes a physicians contract and considers the doctors lack of response as acceptance.
They ... have no idea that theyve just been signed up to participate in a plan with a patient population who are, you know, theyre probably not financially well off, and they just signed up for a plan that has a 40 percent co-payment and potentially high deductible, Scott said.
Millson, of the Florida Academy, said hes heard very little about ACA exchange plans from the trade groups more than 4,000 member doctors, residents and students in the state.
The few physicians who have called are concerned that they have not yet received payment from some ACA exchange plans likely because the plans are so new, he said.
What weve advised them is as difficult as it is you should work with the patient to receive a co-payment or payment up front, Millson said, and let the patient go back to the insurance company and collect it.
While it may not make sense to pass more financial responsibility onto patients whose low income qualified them for government subsidies to buy health insurance in the first place, physicians have to protect their ability to see other patients, too, Millson said.
Insurance companies, though, say they expect physicians to honor their contracts.
Nancy Hanewinckel, a spokeswoman for Humana, which sells plans on the ACA exchange in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, said the insurer received signed consent from existing providers to participate in the new networks.
In all cases, these providers voluntarily agreed to participate and signed an amendment to their existing contract, Hanewinckel said.
Florida Blue, which sells plans on the ACA exchange in every Florida county, did not build new networks for those plans, said Paul Kluding, a spokesman.
Based on the contracts our providers have signed with Florida Blue, they have agreed to treat our members regardless of how they obtained their insurance coverage, Kluding said.
He added that Florida Blue has not received many complaints from members about physicians refusing the companys ACA exchange plans.
Wollschlaeger, the Aventura physician, said he believes much of this issue is due to growing pains of the health law, and that patients, physicians and insurers will learn to work together because the old system was inefficient.
Its a better deal than dealing with uninsured patients, Wollschlaeger said. It provides patient retention, continuity of care, the opportunity to refer patients, and ... patients come back when you want them to come back, and not when they can afford it."
That's because you aren't a first class citizen. Instead of paying your own way, you rely on the government to force me at the point of a gun to pay for your health care. Pay your own way, and you become a first-class citizen. Leech off of others, and forfeit that status.
now wait a minute. I know people for a fact that were told that the primary care doctor was not taking new medicare patients. these are people who worked all their lives to supposedly “earn” medicare and now cant get a doctor, so what are these obamacare freeloaders whining about.
If you pay for an insurance policy in the woods that no one will honor, is Ubama still a liar?
This is how you deal with it.
What? You mean doctors aren’t grabbing their ankles for The Won?
Reeducation camps for you!!!
I hope every single of these parasites get the dose of Obamacare.
They made me feel really bad,
You do have a serious disease. It's called Obamacare.
Miranda Joyce Childe
Work and Education
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HMOs always have the fewest doctors. That’s why a lot of Americans don’t like HMOs.
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You are cold. Cruel. Insensitive. And 100% correct.
Great work kcvl, unmasking the FSA here.
$145/month??? That's all?
This dude is being subsidized to the nines by Joe Taxpayer!
It wasn't "government aid" ... it was TAXPAYER MONEY!
When the very first sentence of an article has to be corrected, you know the rest really isn't worth shit.
In light of the favorite shows, I rest my case.
Bears repeating again, and again, and again! SPOT ON! Grow up, be an adult, take responsibility for yourself and pay your own f'ign way!
What few realize is that networks are combining and doctors are getting added to networks without their knowledge or permission. Then we get calls from patients who say the doctor is listed in their handbook for their particular network and they want an appointment.
Not going to be seen, at least with my doctor clients, unless the patient wants to pay up front as a private pay patient. Doctors, particularly those who are trying to maintain a solo practice, pay their bills and keep their staff intact, are being made out to be the bad guys. This certainly is one time they shouldn’t be. In some cases better for them to stop taking all insurance and negotiate fees with the patients.
I don't care WTH you want free, citizens cannot be forced work for anybody.
The shortage is much larger than the Gov or MSM are letting on.
Doctors go Galt.
Who did you vote for Miranda?
Dead bang correct.
My Cadillac (silver?) family insurance, including some dental and eyeglasses cost over $1650.00 month about 12x his $145.
I thought the article said she is 60?
Because you are helping to subsidize their insurance too so it cost them less and you more!
I’m guessing its an old photo.
Wow - that is harsh. But it’s true and it needed to be said.
And if you don’t mind, I’d like to borrow that thought. I’ll put it to good use, I assure you...
Note the recurring theme of low reimbursements for doctors. No one addresses that.
bump for later
I'll bet the Obama borg are working on that problem. They will find a way to make sure that if you practice medicine, you will take Obamacare. Then it is a short jump to mandating that if you have a medical education, you will work for the state. The US is rapidly moving away from that free citizen thingy.
——— I believe the onus is on the insurers and the providers to bridge this gap -——
This is an ignorant statement by a true socialist that lives on unicorn milk.
She doesn’t understand that the reason to be in business is to make money. To make money, bills for services rendered must be paid.
A patient that has Obamacare has no insurance until the deductible is reached. That means that the patient must pay for the total at the Doctor’s office at the time the service is rendered. Having no money the patient can’t pay. Knowing that, the presentation of an Obamacare card is an alarm bell proclaiming the patient can’t pay.
That gap was intended to be paid by the insurance policy but is not because the whole Obama scam prevents it. There is simply not enough money in the system.
As the great Walter Williams puts it, “In order for one person to get a thing without paying for it, another person must pay for that thing without getting it”.
We do not accept anything from the marketplace [Obamacare].
My husband said that when he called to make an appointment with his dermatologist, there was an upfront disclaimer that they won’t accept any insurance from healthcare.gov. ‘Glad that wasn’t his case.
LOL Karma can be just a barrel of laughs sometime!
I think the serious disease is stupidity...but whatever!
None of the specialists that I was seeing will accept any of this new insurance.
This includes my ( former) dermatologist, cardiologist, and gastroenteroligist.
Have to find new ones, but most of them are 90+ miles away.
My eye doctor is also not accepting...
I hope more doctors quit practicing so as to make more people experience suffering from yet another LIB/DIM “program”. Maybe more people will awaken...maybe.
But yet the doc gets ALL of the legal liability.
Would ANYONE in any other line of work accept these terms?
Oh, you "might" get paid, you might not, who knows?
Yeah, just great.
I was telling my friend about this issue, and she basically said...doctors are not refusing to take Obamacare. The Obamacare health insurance plan doesn’t exist. If people buy private insurance through the exchanges, there is no way for a doctor to know how it is funded unless a patient tells them. If doctors are refusing all insurance plans available on the exchanges, blame the doctor because you can’t blame Obamacare for ignorant doctors.
How do I answer this arrogance?
Well the solution is obvious: we’re just going to have to force the doctors to the work.
It’s not slavery - it’s totally different.
Now go pay your taxes, your government is broke.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: “I believe the onus is on the insurers and the providers to bridge this gap and provide reliable, consistent customer service.
Translation: “Doctors have much more money to donate to my campaign. All I get from poor people are their votes. So, don’t call me.”
Same company, but different co-pays, etc.
And WHEN the person being subsidized decides that $200 per month with a $5000 deductible is just too much to pay, and they stop making agreed to premiums, the policy gets cancelled. AFTER you've seen them and rendered care.
So you get NOTHING! You LOSE! Good day sir!
Mark my words this is going to happen, and already is.
I can't make it plainer than that.
An "insurance card" does not guarantee "health care".
The very same thing would happen if someone with a non-Obama subsidized plan decided to stop paying premiums.
The policy is cancelled.
And we don't take expired insurance, no matter how shiny the card is.