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U.S. President Barack Obama answers a question about the situation in Ukraine, following remarks on the budget at Powell Elementary School in Washington March 4, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst U.S. President Barack Obama answers a question about the situation in Ukraine, following remarks on the budget at Powell Elementary School in Washington March 4, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst  

Report: Obamacare exchanges not covering best hospitals for cancer care

Cancer patients struggling to get care were cited as a reason to pass Obamacare. Is the reality different?

An Associated Press survey found that only four of the 19 nation’s best comprehensive cancer centers responded that patients will have access through each of the insurance companies in the state exchange.

While consumers that are already suffering from the disease can pick out a plan that suits them, a surprise diagnosis could leave Obamacare customers without the cancer care that they need.

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is not covered by five of the eight insurance companies working with Washington state’s health care exchange. MD Anderson Cancer Center reported being covered by less than half of Houston area exchange plans.

New York has a particularly bleak outlook. Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York City is only fully covered by two of nine insurers in city, and has out-of-network agreements with another two, and Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo isn’t included in 11 of 16 of state-wide insurance plans.

It has previously been reported that Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, a top-ranked hospital in the nation and home to the most comprehensive treatment for almost any serious disease, is covered by just one insurance plan in Minnesota’s state-run Obamacare exchange. (RELATED: Hospital cited by Obama as health-reform model for the nation accepts only one kind of insurance plan under Obamacare

The sudden downgrade in access to the best care is a sign of Obamacare’s shift to cost-centered focus rather than care, according to Dan Mendelson, CEO of Avalere Health.

“This is a marked deterioration of access to the premier cancer centers for people who are signing up for these plans,” Mendelson told the AP.

It’s another side effect of increasingly narrow insurer networks created by Obamacare regulations. Insurance companies had been gradually moving toward slimming their networks of covered physicians and services, but Obamacare rules limiting how much insurers can spend on which services, and mandating other benefits have pushed companies toward narrower choices.

Fred Rosamilia of New York made headlines early this month when he found out only after a surgery that his gold-level Obamacare coverage — specifically chosen to provide access to his oncologists — wouldn’t cover the procedure, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

The plan only covered lower costing, higher co-pay surgeries and Rosamilia’s family is now liable for 60 days worth of medical bills incurred while they had Obamacare coverage.

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