When the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, was signed into law, people had many questions about how this healthcare reform would affect their existing health coverage. Would people be able to keep their policies, and more importantly, their chosen doctors and healthcare providers?
Although Obamacare was designed to bring affordable health insurance to the masses, helping tens of millions of people previously unable to get insurance due to low income, preexisting conditions, or other causes, there was concern that the ACA didn’t address the wants and needs of those already insured. Of course, the law wasn’t created to penalize anyone.
That said, it would be silly to think that overhauling a system like healthcare in a country as vast as the United States would leave anyone unaffected. With more people insured, doctors have had to take on more patients, at least doctors who take Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance policies offered through Obamacare’s state exchanges.
What does this mean for you? Whether you keep your old policy or switch to a new one, are there any guarantees that you can continue to see your preferred healthcare providers under Obamacare?
What the Law Says
Although the ACA has pages upon pages of stipulations and amendments, nowhere does the law expressly prohibit anyone from continuing to see the doctors they had before Obamacare was enacted. In fact, your ability to remain with a preferred healthcare provider depends largely on your choices, just as before the ACA went into effect.
If you were one of many people who elected to continue using the same insurance provider and policy following the implementation of Obamacare, your coverage likely went uninterrupted, at least for a time. Because of the mandatory minimum coverage requirements, some policies and providers had to make changes to meet standards, which may have disrupted coverage for some people.
Although insurance providers were given time to make appropriate changes, the ultimate result for those not in compliance with mandatory minimums was that certain policies had to be cancelled or amended in order to meet new requirements. In some cases, this had no effect on whether or not patients could continue to see the same doctors, but there were certainly some scenarios in which networks of healthcare providers were affected by these changes.
The good news for anyone interested in keeping the same doctors is that there are options to find coverage under which preferred health care providers are still considered to be in network. The best way to confirm that you can continuing seeing your doctor is to ask your healthcare providers which types of insurance they will accept moving forward.
Doctors are allowed to decide the types of insurance they will take, so asking could help to narrow your search for appropriate coverage. From there you can speak with insurance agents or marketplace representatives to make sure the policies you’re interested in include your preferred doctors. It may take a bit of research on your part, but there are definitely ways to keep the doctors you love even when you change your health insurance provider or your policy.