Obama Says Obamacare's Limited Doctor Networks are About Choice—But In Some Cases There Isn't One



President Obama's sales pitch for Obamacare included repeated promises that, under his proposal, "if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Period." But it turns out that, for some people, that's not true.

Obama doesn't make much effort to deny this. Instead, he tries to shrug off the blame. 

The gist of Obama's excuse for why some people can't keep their doctors under his health care overhaul is that, despite his promise that it's not really his fault. Don't blame the president, because it's all just a natural part of the health insurance marketplace.

Asked in a recent WebMD interview about limited access to doctors under the law, Obama responded, "these are private insurance plans, which means that they're going to have networks. That's pretty much true of any health insurance plan you've got right now…that's not unique to the Affordable Care Act."

What it comes down to, he said, is people making choices.

"For the average person, for many folks who don't have health insurance initially, they're going to have to make some choices. They might have to end up switching doctors in part because they're saving money. But that's true if your employer suddenly decides this network is going to give you a better deal. 'We think this is going to help keep premiums lower. You gotta use this doctor as opposed to this one.'"

Well, yes, people in the private health insurance market have to consider tradeoffs and make their own choices, as do employers. But the choices about plans and coverage networks facing many people now have come about as a direct result of Obamacare, which, by design, shook up the market for individual health coverage.

Thanks to Obamacare, the health plans—and the networks and doctors that went along with them—that millions of people had and liked are no longer available. Those people had made their choices, and then Obama took their choices away, after promising that he wouldn't. The choice those people have now is a choice that he forced upon them, that many didn't want, and that he said they wouldn't have to make. (There's also some indication that the networks for plans in the exchanges have tightened in response to regulations and incentives built into the law.) 

Meanwhile, the plan choices offered through the law's exchanges are, in many cases, rather limited. In 515 mostly rural counties in 15 different states, there's only one health insurer selling coverage, according to The Wall Street Journal. In the vast majority of those counties, the local Blue Cross & Blue Shield plan is the only option.

Obama acknowledges as much, while attempting to frame it as good news. "The good news" he says, "is, in most states, people have more than one option." Put another way: This is about choice. But in some places, there isn't one. The only choices Obama likes are the ones that he allows. 

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  1. “Comrade, you have choice. Bread or no bread.”

    1. “But Comrade, there is no bread in the store.”

      1. “Then, comrade, you have another choice: Wait for no bread, or do not wait for no bread.”

  2. Freedom is slavery.

  3. Not being given a choice is still about choice.

  4. You know, as a lawyer I’ll just note he did say you *CAN* keep your doctor, and you certainly can…you just have to go out-of-pocket.

    1. You know, as a lawyer I’ll just note he did say you *CAN* keep your doctor, and you certainly can

      What if they’ve been cremated

      1. Keep the remains in the can?

  5. Those people had made their choices, and then Obama took their choices away, after promising that he wouldn’t.

    Yes, but you’re just saying that because you hate poor people and because you’re racist.

    /proggie boilerplate

  6. The comment count is way down today. The squirrelz are relentless. However they did let me sneak into the second post on AM links, so maybe they aren’t all bad.

  7. I’m pretty sure if my employer decided to switch insurers, they would have a phase-in period allowing me to stay on the same plan for several more years. And if my doctor decided to switch networks, he would notify me well in advance to allow me to make arrangements.

    For most people whose plans were canceled, this happened with no advance warning beyond the cancellation letter itself. Largely because Democrats did NOT want to advertise to people that their plans weren’t grandfathered.
    They deliberately hid that information and caused it to fall oupon people suddenly, giving them only a couple of months – during the Christmas holidays, to find a new plan.

    Don’t you wonder why the D’s didn’t warn people in advance that their plans would be canceled? Could it be because they knew it was bad politics? And yet, obviously they MUST have known that people would find out eventually – when their plans were canceled. It just strikes me as the most insane delusional way of going about politics – to pretend that if you don’t tell people something is going to happen, that they won’t notice when it happens. That if you don’t talk about it, it won’t be an issue. It’s just like their continued delusional pretension that all the horror stories are fake. If they just refuse to acknowledge reality, they can make it go away.

    1. Sure it is insane Hazel. But so is passing a bill that you call the greatest thing since the New Deal and then delaying it’s going into effect until AFTER your re-election campaign. If you really think its great, don’t you want it to be in effect so you can campaign on how great it is? And if you think it is so bad that you don’t want to face the consequences until after you no longer have to face the voters, maybe you shouldn’t do it?

      All of this is really just the wages of electing a moron to the White House. Obama put his credibility on the line by claiming he was going to give Progs the comprehensive healthcare reform they had always dreamed about. But Obama had no idea what that reform should actually be. Worse, the ideas the morons in Congress like Bachus came up with were horrible. But Obama had to pass something and honestly probably wasn’t smart enough to fully understand what a disaster this thing actually was going to be.

      1. I think one of the reasons that they didn’t mention is also that no one really knew. Pelosi wasn’t lying when she said “we have to pass it to find out what is in it” because it is a mosaic of special interests combined into a huge pile of shit. Each Congresscritter knows that their little piece is in there, and nothing else, because nothing else mattered.

        I suspect that few if any individuals know all of the implications of this “law”. What is the purpose of reading the payoff to several hundred congress scum? The bill gave the Executive regulatory discretion. Let them, and several thousands of bureaucrats, figure it out.

    2. I’m pretty sure if my employer decided to switch insurers, they would have a phase-in period allowing me to stay on the same plan for several more years.

      My employer (Fortune 500 size) has done this a couple of times over the years. Never had a multiyear phase in of the change. Open enrollment comes up with the choices available, make your selection, and it takes effect in the next plan year in about 2 months. Your current insurer/plan is no longer offered? Make another selection.

      1. Same for me when I was working in the corporate office of my previous employer (Fortune 20 or so) and my wife whenever the school district changed providers. Never went through it with my current mid-cap employer, but I doubt it would be any different.

  8. My wife works for a pretty large oncology practice here in SC and according to her there is only one practice in the entire state that is actually in the various ACA plans.

    1. We didn’t elect Romney because he was going to make war on the WOMENZ. Instead, we re-elected Obama so he could make war on the sick.

  9. Anyhow, yeah, it’s about choice. His and that hag Pelosi’s.

  10. I get the sense that the world of healthcare insurance is much more stratified under Obamacare. Before, networks were all very similar, but now Obamacare plans are sort of a 3rd world ghetto experience, with much smaller networks and not the higher end resources of the better plans, most of which come through employers.

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