Doctors refuse to treat Obamacare patients, say they can’t afford to
by: Ethan A. Huff
Thursday, August 14, 2014
As the rubber meets the road for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many doctors are realizing that the healthcare overhaul simply won’t work for them if they want to actually stay in business. Many private practices, according to reports, are coming to the harsh realization that Obamacare’s reimbursement rates for medical care are dismal, which is why many doctors are choosing to opt out of the program entirely.
It is something that we predicted from the beginning — a very limited network of covered providers that are willing and able to accept lower-than-standard reimbursements. Obamacare’s most avid supporters were vehement in their denial that such a scenario would ever occur, but it is now clear that government-mandated coverage is unsustainable, and that quality of care will decline if doctors are forced to provide coverage at lower rates.
“I cannot accept a plan [in which] potentially commercial-type reimbursement rates were now going to be reimbursed at Medicare rates,” stated Dr. Doug Gerard, a Connecticut-based internist, to NPR. “You have to maintain a certain mix in private practice between the low reimbursers and the high reimbursers to be able to keep the lights on.”
While a normal private insurer would reimburse him about $100 for a standard patient visit, Dr. Gerard says Obamacare’s private insurance plans will only reimburse him about $80, which is roughly equivalent to the Medicare reimbursement rate. Among the three plans available on Connecticut’s Obamacare marketplace, only one of them meets the minimal reimbursement requirements that Dr. Gerard says are necessary for him to provide adequate care.
“I don’t think most physicians know what they’re being reimbursed,” he told NPR. “Only when they start seeing some of those rates come through will they realize how low the rates are they agreed to.”
Obamacare doesn’t even cover cancer treatment in many states