WASHINGTON (AP) — After they get the website fixed, then what? Keeping your doctors and hospitals may be the next vexing challenge for Americans in the new health plans created by President Barack Obama’s law.

Obama promised people could keep their doctors. But in many states the new plans appear to offer a narrow choice of hospitals and doctors. Overall, it’s shaping up as less choice than what people get through Medicare or employer-based coverage. Also, it can get complicated tracking down which medical providers are in what plans.

“The next shoe is going to drop sometime after Jan. 1, when people actually start using their plans,” said health economist Gail Wilensky, who ran Medicare for President George H.W. Bush. “Whether or not they can keep their doctor is going to depend on whether their doctor was chosen — or wanted to be — part of a plan on the (insurance) exchange.”

Concerns are already being raised from New Hampshire to Kentucky, and Chicago to New York.

Narrow networks are part of the economic trade-off for keeping premiums under control in Obama’s health insurance markets, the new gateway to coverage for people who don’t have job-based plans. Technical problems with the website Health- Care.gov have dampened initial signups, but 7 million people are expected to participate in the insurance exchanges next year. Some of those people already have coverage through individual plans.



filed under: