Healthcare Reform: Progress and Growing Pains

healthcaregov_logoAfter a disastrous launch, the tide seems to finally be turning for Healthcare.gov. The Administration reports that the website is now running smoothly more than 90% of the time, up from 40-60% during some weeks in October. The error rate for the site is now below 1%, pages are loading faster, and the site can support its goal of at least 800,000 visitors in a day. The government's report concedes that, despite this progress, there is much more work to be done in the coming weeks and months. A 24/7 "rapid response" team is now in place to help keep things running smoothly.

With the website improving rapidly and reports of improved consumer experiences,  skeptics are turning their attention back to the law itself. A subcommittee hearing this week focused on the law's flaws and potentially harmful consequences, including tightening networks and restricting choice of providers.

That's a consequence of the Affordable Care Act that we'll be watching closely as the law takes full effect. In order to keep costs down, many insurers are restricting patients' choice of doctors and hospitals, and that could have a negative impact on kids with cancer. The Washington Post reports that most of the plans available through the exchanges do not include children's hospitals in Seattle, Houston and St. Louis as in-network providers in those regions, when the treatment could be sought elsewhere for cheaper. The insurers' assumption is that routine procedures or treatments should be done for the lowest price. But for kids with cancer, we know that nothing is "routine" and disruption of access to their regular care team can have grave implications.

We'll be watching this issue closely and asking our state advocates to keep an ear to the ground! Advocates will be key in this battle:  in Missouri, consumer advocates have already successfully lobbied one insurer to add a children's hospital to a plan.

Have you had better luck with the website recently? Have you been told your provider network will get smaller? Let us know with a comment below or an email to jkean@childrenscause.org.