LETTERS: Fewer options will mean worse care


To the editor:

What was it that President Barack Obama said while pushing for change in health care? “If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor.” He certainly wasn’t speaking of the Affordable Care Act or its pseudonym, Obamacare.

Federal officials stated in a recent New York Times article that “health insurance will cost consumers less than expected under President Obama’s health care law. But they rarely mention one big reason: many insurers are significantly limiting the choices of doctors and hospitals available to consumers.” In plain English, insurers are driving down premiums by restricting the number of providers who will treat patients in their plans.

Most of those shopping within the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange are concerned about cost first. The way that insurers will hold down costs will be to limit access to a large network of doctors and hospitals and reimburse both doctors and hospitals at rates less than Medicaid. Providers will have to accept a rock-bottom payment to be considered for participation. If Medicaid has taught us one thing, it’s that reduced rates and services translates into the inability to see top physicians in a field of specialty and subsequently long waits in county hospital clinics.

Regardless of what the president says, Obamacare will not guarantee access to specialists or top-tier health care providers. Thinking of going out of the network that you chose on the exchange? According to Adam Linker, a health policy analyst at the North Carolina Justice Center, there’s a risk “because, under some health plans, consumers can end up with astronomical costs if they go to providers outside the network.”

In California, one of the insurers within the exchange has cut its doctor pool nearly in half, from 57,000 doctors to 30,000. In New Hampshire, the only insurer on the exchange has touched off an outcry among citizens because it chose to eliminate 10 of 26 hospitals from its network. This will force many citizens to drive 45 minutes or more to reach a hospital that accepts Obamacare. In New Mexico, the rates that doctors will receive for providing services are less than what it costs to see an average patient.

The most counter-intuitive outcome of Obamacare is the elimination of contracting with federally qualified health care facilities or community health centers. These centers represent the greatest population of people who actually would benefit from Obamacare. They tend to be poorer than the general populace, while percentage-wise attracting the highest amount of uninsured people and statistically the least healthy. Insurers have shown little or no interest in contracting with these centers. Why? Because the profit margin is nearly zero.

If health plans have a narrow network that excludes the most prestigious and highly regarded physicians — experts in dealing with certain complex medical conditions — patients will have to settle for providers with less training and less experience. In other words, providers the insurer was able to get on the cheap, rather than providers who are concerned about the health of patients.

TED COHEN

LAS VEGAS

School attendance

To the editor:

The Review Journal’s Wednesday story by Trevon Milliard (“Hispanics lead attendance ”) failed to even mention the elephant in the room that is mass illegal immigration. The fact is Mexico contributes 61 percent of the U.S. illegal immigrant population, and the rest of Latin American accounts for an additional 14 percent out of a total unauthorized population of more than 12 million.

This story is a prime example of a political agenda that ignores the facts, avoids the truth and emphasizes political correctness at all costs.

LARRY BROWN

NORTH LAS VEGAS

 

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