Covered California to offer limited choice of providers

May 25, 2013 at 4:04 PM
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SACRAMENTO, May 25 (UPI) -- California residents who get health insurance through the state's exchange will have limited choice of doctors and hospitals, officials say.

Some insurers are offering plans through Covered California that are more restrictive than their other coverage, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

Blue Cross of California, for example, said those buying insurance through the state-run exchange will be able to choose only about 36 percent of the doctors and hospitals in its network.

Those who have employer-provided health insurance are unlikely to notice any immediate changes, the newspaper said, but they are likely to have less choice in the future as companies try to cut insurance costs.

State officials say 80 percent of healthcare providers are in the network of at least one Covered California plan.

"If we want to keep costs down, something has to give," said Betsy Imholz, special projects director for Consumers Union. "At first blush, it seems like Covered California has negotiated some good deals, but in any given community we will see how this network issue plays out."

About 5 million people -- 15 percent of the state's population -- are eligible for coverage through Covered California. Half have incomes low enough to qualify for federal subsidies.

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