Matt Lewis

The coming ‘You can keep your doctor’ disaster

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor

“What is so deadly is that you lose your identity,” a friend who lives in North Dakota told me the other day (we were discussing his recent experience with ObamaCare). “You know your agent. And then he turns into a robotic government bureaucrat. And he doesn’t look at you as an individual anymore. You become a number. You’re just a piece of meat.”

This was coming from a guy who personally knows his insurance agent and does business face-to-face. I suspect few Americans care this much about their relationship to an insurance company, so long as they have coverage.

No, the real intimate relationship we have — the one that matters most — is with our doctor. And that has to be one of the things keeping Team Obama up at night, worrying about the future.

Consider this from Swampland:

“[F]or the President, the real political pain may only be starting. Come 2014, the rest of the country may learn that another high-profile pledge was untrue. ‘No matter how we reform health care,” Obama said in 2009, “we will keep this promise: if you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period.’

 

“It’s not that simple. In order to participate in health-insurance exchanges, insurers needed to find a way to tamp down the high costs of premiums. As a result, many will narrow their networks, shrinking the range of doctors that are available to patients under their plan, experts say.”

For years, Republicans have warned about this sort of thing, but it was always theoretical (as Swampland notes: “The Administration stopped advertising the doctor pledge shortly after the law slipped through Congress by a hairbreadth, though the claim remains on the White House website.”)

But Republican warnings are one thing. Experience is another. And just imagine what will happen when a mother of five shows up at the pediatrician and is told, “You say you signed up on the website, but we have no proof of insurance” — or maybe worse: “You’re no longer in our network.”

That’s when things could get real.