When a patient came in for a recent visit, she was noticeably upset. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me she was annoyed that her other physicians would not accept her new insurance. She felt abandoned and blamed her doctors for not taking her coverage. When I inquired further about what type of insurance she procured, she responded, "one of the new affordable health care act plans" -- better known as Obamacare.
Millions of patients across the country have now enrolled in an Affordable Care Act insurance program only to find that many doctors are not accepting these programs. Patients and physicians alike are confused by the new programs and how they are structured. One of the first issues that is causing confusion is that the patients enrolled in these ACA plans have the exact same insurance card as a person enrolled in the same insurance company who pays for a traditional plan. This poses a major problem for doctors, especially when patients need to be referred for tests or consultations. For example, had I referred this patient for her scheduled endoscopy at the local hospital, neither the hospital nor the physician's fee would have been covered since they do not accept her new ACA coverage. Thus, had the patient gone for the test, she would have been personally responsible for its cost (likely thousands of dollars). Unfortunately, without giving the physicians a way to ascertain that an individual has an ACA plan, they risk referring patients to physicians and/or facilities that do not participate in the plan.