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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Say Goodbye to Your Doctor?

With the enactment of ObamaCare, the country’s largest insurers are beginning to offer affordable plans with reduced premiums that offer participants a more limited menu of doctors and hospitals (Reed Abelson, “Insurers Push Plans That Limit Choice of Doctor,” New York Times, July 17, 2010).

These plans are being tested in places like New York, Chicago, San Diego, and other cities. Such plans will likely appeal to small businesses that already provide insurance to their employees, but are upset about the ever-increasing cost of coverage.

Large employers have already started to show interest, and insurers and consultants expect that ultimately, businesses of all sizes will gravitate toward these plans in order to cut costs.
More Americans will now be asked to pay higher prices for the ability to choose or keep their own doctors if they are outside the new networks. This will occur despite the repeated assurances from President Obama and others in his regime that consumers would hang on to a variety of health care choices. Companies might reduce their premiums up to 15%, the insurers  offering the more limited plans indicate.

The plans will likely be popular with individuals and small businesses who are mandated to purchase coverage in the insurance exchanges, or marketplaces when ObamaCare takes effect fully in 2014.

Millions of Americans, including many of the previously uninsured, who will buy their coverage through exchanges, will be willing to accept restrictions to get a better deal.

These changes are likely to cause a significant and deleterious effect on the practice of medicine, hastening the already tenuous patient-physician relationship, and worsening a projected serious physician shortage by 2020.

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