Now that people review are starting to review their health care costs, people are also starting to look at other parts of their healthcare. Namely, doctors, prescriptions, and insurance plan coverage. We covered many of these issues in a previous blogs, mainly this one here on doctors and health care providers. Continuing on discussing the changes the Affordable Care Act presents us, we turn back to a similar and potentially scary message: health care costs may be affecting you and your doctor.
As the Affordable Care Act continues to become entrenched more in our everyday lives, more and more people are learning how it is affecting us. It is now known that most people weren't able to keep their original plan, but many are learning that even their doctor is no longer in their health insurance coverage plan.
According to an article written by Jim Angle, an unintended consequence of the Affordable Care Act has been the new plans' coverage has been extremely diminished. For example, Dr. Scott Gottlieb of the American Enterprise Institute, discovered an interesting pattern:
[We] found a similar situation in a county in Florida where there are "seven pediatricians for a county that serviced almost a quarter of a million children. We found plans in San Diego County that only gave you access to 10 dermatologists."
"I found counties, for example, again in California, where the nearest urologist was 90 miles away," says AEI's Gottlieb. "So if you think of the range of conditions, which you might need to see a urologist, sometimes you're not going to be able to drive 90 miles to see one."
Waiting... and waiting... and waiting.
While we are becoming accustomed to waiting more, there is a ripple affect that many haven't thought of.... yet. Waiting just isn't going to be in terms of waiting in the doctor's office waiting room, increasing from minutes to hours, but waiting in terms of the frequency of seeing your doctor. Seeing your specialist may go from once a quarter to twice a year. And for people who need to see the doctor regularly, there are a few options.
1) Marry your doctor - OK, this is a bit of a joke, but getting to know your doctor on a more personal level is always a great way to see your doctor outside of office hours or getting more than just doctor/patient service.
2) Switch doctors - Some doctors have left the health insurance plan altogether and have changed their practice to an a la carte practice. Other doctors have been removed from their current health insurance plans by the insurance companies. So whether you wanted more convenience or needed to switch, some of us will have to become comfortable reaquainting to new doctors.
3) See your doctor less frequently - If it's true what Dr. Gottlieb says, you will just have to smile and make sure when you see your doctor, you have all your questions lined up, your medical tests, prescriptions, how you feel, any changes, etc. all handy. It can be done as millions upon millions will be doing this, but the most important thing is being prepared.
No matter which option you choose, the best option is to be prepared with all of your exams, tests, and lab results so the doctor can feel as up to date as possible. The best part of being seeing your doctor is not just being a name and a record, but a face with a medical story, a person.
Check out how one person was prepared for a medical emergency while on an afternoon jog.
So, given options 1 -3 above, which are you going to do? Feel free to comment below on your thoughts on the scarcity of doctors and if you have any experiences yet.