Surprise, surprise: now that Affordable Care Act insurance has gone into effect, people are having trouble using it at hospitals. NYT:
Interviews with doctors, hospital executives, pharmacists and newly insured people around the country suggest that the biggest challenge so far has been verifying coverage. A surge of enrollments in late December, just before the deadline for coverage to take effect, created backlogs at many state and federal exchanges and insurance companies in processing applications. As a result, many of those who enrolled have yet to receive an insurance card, policy number or bill.Many are also having trouble reaching exchanges and insurance companies to confirm their enrollment or pay their first month’s premium. Doctors’ offices and pharmacies, too, are spending hours on the phone trying to verify patients’ coverage, sometimes to no avail.
On the one hand, you don’t want to make too much out of a story like this. Just like the website problems, initial confusion on coverage details is the kind of thing that will clear up over time. Eventually people will be able to use their new insurance effectively, and invariably the media will feature stories of people who can now access treatments and procedures they were denied before.On the other hand, the last thing the Affordable Care Act needs right now is bad press. Even if these problems are solved, the almost unending streams of obstacles, challenges, and screw-ups associated with the law’s launch will leave a lingering bad taste in people’s mouths into the foreseeable future. The longer the ACA continues to provide access in name only, the more likely people are to form a settled negative opinion about it that will be difficult to overturn.