Consumer unrest over the Affordable Care Act’s narrow networks is boiling over in California. Fears about hikes in premium costs have dominated the coverage of the ACA, but a new lawsuit points to a different problem with the law. The LA Times reports that 33 customers of Anthem Blue Cross, a large insurer, are suing the company for limiting their choice of providers. More:
Anthem members accuse the company of misrepresenting the size of its physician networks and the insurance benefits provided in new plans offered under the Affordable Care Act.
In many cases, consumers say, Anthem canceled their more generous PPO, or preferred-provider organization, plan and moved them to a more limited EPO, or exclusive-provider-organization, policy.[…]
As a result, some consumers incurred unforeseen medical bills when they were treated by out-of-network doctors, according to the suit. EPO health plans usually have little or no coverage outside the network.
The Affordable Care Act has lately become more unpopular than ever, even though coverage has expanded (at least in name), and some states saw only average premium hikes. This lawsuit might point to a major reason why: Consumers don’t like to have their choices limited, especially as the result of having their plans cancelled.