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Obamacare start-up pains at the doctor's office


Insurance companies and consumers aren't the only ones who could experience start-up pains as new health plans become effective in 2014. Doctors could also hit some bumps in the road, MedPageToday reports.    

For one, patients who signed up for higher cost-sharing Bronze and Silver plans might not have been aware of how much of the bill they would be responsible for. The misconception that the insurance company will pay for everything is common among first-time health insurance buyers, especially if they immigrated from a country with national healthcare. 

How will doctor's offices collect? Practitioners have to weigh the options of insisting on payment up front, or extending credit, leaving them open to a bad debt.  

Doctors also have to prepare for the Affordable Care Act grace period for patients who are allowed to keep their coverage for up to 90 days if they fall behind on their payments, MedPageToday writes.   

With narrower provider networks, many patients are likely to find their doctor or hospital isn't in their plan's network. Physicians, too, may be surprised to find they've been dropped. 

Verifying whether the patient is insured could be difficult initially as insurance companies scramble to deal with the transfer of enrollment information from Healthcare.gov. 

And insurance companies will be pushing the Affordable Care Act's quality and cost incentives down to their providers. For example, if the reimbursement is higher for immunizing the patient, doctors will be given an incentive to make sure they do.  Read more.


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