So far, coverage about the Affordable Care Act has focused on rate shock and policy cancellations. But the next wave of bad news is coming, and it could wind up being even more fatal to public support for the law. Supporters of Obamacare can fight back against the rate shock stories by pointing to examples of people who have gotten cheaper premiums through the ACA. But in many cases, the ACA’s cheaper premiums are the result of restricting provider networks. It’s a phenomenon pundits are calling doc shock, and WaPo reports it’s already affecting the insurance agency:
In one closely watched case, Seattle Children’s Hospital has filed suit against Washington’s insurance commissioner after a number of insurers kept it out of their provider networks. “It is unprecedented in our market to have major insurance plans exclude Seattle Children’s,” said Sandy Melzer, senior vice president.
A number of the nation’s top hospitals — including the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, and children’s hospitals in Seattle, Houston and St. Louis — are cut out of most plans sold on the exchange.
This will sound very familiar to anyone who remembers the backlash against HMOs in the 1990s. Then, as now, people react very aggressively to have limitations put on health care choices. Rate shock could ultimately been less politically explosive than doc shock. This is one reason we believe the ACA may have long term consequences for liberalism: the current problems the law faces are not one-off challenges, but the first of several waves that will hit again and again over the next year. Obamacare’s worst days could still be ahead of it.