- Insurers selling cover on the new exchanges will not offer access to cancer centers, Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston
- Access to Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, one of the top research and teaching hospitals, may also be limited
PUBLISHED: 01:53 EST, 9 December 2013 | UPDATED: 03:13 EST, 9 December 2013
People buying insurance plans through Obamacare’s online exchanges may not have full access to some of the nation’s top hospitals, it has been claimed.
In a bid to cut costs, insurers selling cover on the new exchanges in states including New York, Texas and California will not offer patients access to two renowned cancer centers – Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, according to The Financial Times.
Access to Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, one of the top research and teaching hospitals, may also be limited, as the insurers attempt to steer customers away from hospitals or doctors they consider too expensive.
However, millions of currently uninsured Americans will still be better off than if they had no cover at all.
According to the FT, customers with certain plans can elect to see doctors or be treated at hospitals that are ‘out of network’ but this would likely incur high out of pocket costs and may require a referral to ensure it’s a necessity.
Some hospital officials are worried about what they call an unintended consequence of the new law.
‘We’re very concerned. (Insurers) know patients that are sick come to places like ours,’ Thomas Priselac, president and chief executive officer of Cedars-Sinai Health System in California told the FT.
‘What this is trying to do is redirect those patients elsewhere, but there is a reason why they come here. These patients need what it is that we are capable of providing.’
Another famous hospital, the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, was also limited until healthcare exchange board officials pushed insurers to expand their network.
Spokeswoman Kathleen Harrington said the clinic is now available on seven different plans from two insurance companies.
The Department of Health and Human Services told the FT millions of families would have vastly increased access to medical providers thanks to the new exchanges.
‘Decisions about which private health insurance plans cover which doctors is a decision currently made by insurers and providers and will continue that way,’ the spokeswoman said.
Mr Priselac urged insurers to offer the top hospitals, which are often leaders in innovation, because the efficiency that innovation affords actually reduces the cost for everyone in the long run.