Obamacare Customer can Keep her Doctor — If She can Afford it

A health-care navigator with Colorado’s state-run health-care exchange bluntly told a customer that she would pay substantially more in monthly premiums for her new insurance policy if she insisted on sticking with her long-time doctor.

Rebecca Ryan, shopping for a new insurance plan when her previous one was canceled for not conforming to the Affordable Care Act, recorded the phone call and shared it with Complete Colorado, which first reported on their conversation.

In it, Ryan wonders why the premiums for insurance options are so much higher than she paid before. Under her old plan, which was run by the state to provide insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, premiums were $375 per month. A new plan with similar coverage and deductibles would cost $515 per month if she kept her doctor.

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Choosing a new plan with a different doctor would be cheaper — $360 per month.

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“So they’re going to penalize me because I want to keep my doctor?” she asks the Connect for Health Colorado representative at one point in the conversation.

“Yes,” the person answers, suggesting that she remove her doctor’s name from the list of options in order to see less expensive plans.

President Obama and other supporters of the Affordable Care Act have often said patients won’t be forced to choose new health-care providers under the new health-care law. That’s true in Ryan’s case, but only if she is willing to pay a higher premium, as the navigator explained.

“[W]hat if I want to keep [my doctor]?” Ryan asked. “I’ve been with her a long time, and I don’t want a different doctor.”

“If you want to keep her then you’re looking to pay the $515 a month,” the representative replied.

At another point in the conversation, Ryan says her doctor is a general practitioner, not a specialist whose services might be expected to cost more.

“She’s such a special lady and I would like to keep her as my doctor forever because of this,” Ryan told Complete Colorado. “A successful doctor-patient relationship takes a tremendous amount of trust. That is built over time. If I am forced to just take any doctor they choose, that trust relationship will be gone.”


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