Video: Did Covered California conduct a “bait and switch” on provider networks?
posted at 12:01 pm on February 14, 2014 by Ed Morrissey
Perhaps the better question is whether Barack Obama will end up “winning” the Lie of the Year in 2014 for the second half of the promise that got him the award in 2013. The first half promised Americans that they could keep their plan if they liked their plan, which millions discovered was a lie when ObamaCare hit the individual marketplace, and tens of millions more will discover when it eventually hits the employer-provided group marketplace — according to Obama’s own HHS. Californians have now discovered that the second half, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” is just as false — and they’re accusing Covered California of a bait-and-switch trap (via ConservativeLA):
A growing number of people who purchased health insurance through California’s state run exchange are complaining that they were misled about the availability of physicians in the network. Some are calling it a bait and switch.
Brent Undridge is one of those complaining. The Castro Valley resident said when he signed up for a Covered California plan back in December, he was led to believe he could continue seeing the same medical group he has been using for the past two decades. But that did not turn out to be the case.
“I wanted to cry,” Undridge told KPIX 5 ConsumerWatch. “I’ve been going there for 26 years, I really like them and want to keep them as my doctors.”
Part of that expectation stemmed from President Barack Obama’s oft-repeated promise while campaigning for the Affordable Care Act that “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” A promise, the President later admitted was not accurate.
In this case, it goes beyond obviously-false promise Obama repeatedly made, even while his own administration knew it was untrue. The Covered California exchange site represented doctors as in-network apparently without bothering to verify their information. That has resulted in confusion and anger … and a lot of finger-pointing.
The CC managers are pointing to the insurers, but the problem appears to be the interchange between CC and two insurers, Anthem and Blue Shield. The latter says that only 140 of the complaints come from their customers, which represents 0.1% of their total enrollments. But that’s just the complaints so far. Most people don’t bother to check with providers directly on insurance issues until they actually need to see the doctor. We’re only six weeks into the year, so it’s not terribly surprising that the complaints are low now.
In the past, that transaction was a lot easier to handle, as consumers dealt directly with insurers, but now they are required to go through the exchange and rely on that information in order to get any subsidies for which they might be eligible. Once again, this demonstrates that putting middlemen in the way of private transactions creates confusion at the very least, and incompetence and unaccountability as a rule. That may or may not qualify as “bait and switch,” but it does qualify as a good reason to keep government out of the way of areas that belong to the private sector.