Megan McArdle explains what’s going on with those “narrow networks,” which is the nice way of saying people are losing the doctors they like:
“Insurers are facing pressure from regulators and lawmakers about plans that offer limited choices of doctors and hospitals, a tactic the industry said is vital to keep down coverage prices in the new health law’s marketplaces.
“This week, federal regulators proposed a tougher review process for the doctors and hospitals in plans to be sold next year through HealthCare.gov, a shift that could force insurers to expand those networks.
“Meantime, regulators in states including Washington and New Hampshire are ramping up their own scrutiny, and lawmakers in Mississippi and Pennsylvania, among others, are weighing bills that could force plans to add more hospitals and doctors.”
Health-care wonks can insist that narrow networks aren’t news, but clearly, these networks are news to the folks in the plans — and now that they know, they aren’t happy.
To sum up.
• Under pressure from government to make coverage more affordable, insurers are limiting access to care. (Don’t call it rationing!)
• Consumers discover the news (which had been hidden from them by the politicians and their wonks and enablers in the media) and complain to government.
• Government will respond by requiring insurers to re-expand their coverage networks.
• Insurers will pass increase costs onto customers.
• Customers will complain to government about increased costs.
• Return to top of list.
This is the never-ending cycle of government failure.
But it keeps congresscritters pandering and regulators looking busy, which means it’s working.