Thursday, October 10, 2013

Maryland Obamacare Exchange: 'No Doctors Are Found'

    "If you've got a doctor that you like, you will be able to keep your doctor," President Obama assured the worried public as he worked to sell the Affordable Care Act in 2010.  However, in July 2013, visitors to Healthcare.gov received a less confident "you may be able to" in answer to the question, "Can I keep my own doctor?"  Beginning October 1, users of the Maryland Health Connection, that state's Obamacare insurance exchange, might have an even more basic question: Are there any doctors?
    A consumer information update dated the day the exchange opened informed users (at least those who took the time to read the updates) that the doctor search function was not yet operational and they would need to visit an external website to find out which doctors accept which plans.  The full update reads as follows [emphasis added]:
Search for your physician. If you are interested in understanding which health plans a particular doctor participates in, please visit https://providersearch.crisphealth.org  – a new service sponsored by Maryland Health Connection. For the time being, doctors and other providers are not yet available in Maryland Health Connection; therefore, if you choose to search for them on the website, you will receive a message that “no doctors are found” message.
     This update and several other consumer updates might help explain why as of noon on Monday, October 7, only 326 people in the state had successfully completed the application process. For example [emphasis added]:

The application’s built in calculator may underestimate total out-of-pocket costs in some cases. Remember that if you are eligible for reductions in cost sharing, only silver plans will qualify. So a bronze plan might cost less in premium, but more in total out of pocket cost. We expect this to be fixed in the very near future, so if you would prefer, please check back in the next several weeks.
In some cases, the application has trouble processing multiple applications at once. In case this happens to you, there is a solution: shop for each person separately. The price will be the same as if you are shopping together 
Please calculate your salary using annual, weekly, quarterly or monthly calculations. Our application is currently miscalculating the bi-weekly salary. You will be able to see the calculated salary to ensure that the information you input is correct.
    The consumer update page does not yet indicate that any of these issues have been resolved.

Note: A version of this article first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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