The other health care battle

Suffering from free market flu:

Aetna and the UNC Health Care System are fighting over how much the insurer will pay for services. About 8,000 Aetna members are caught in the middle.

Unless there's a last-minute settlement, the dispute will force Aetna members to switch to a non-UNC doctor or facility, or pay much higher "out-of-network" costs.

As you can imagine, several of the commenters blame this on Obamacare, even though this kind of thing has been going on for years. But I see at least two facets of the new law that would help patients in this situation: The removal of pre-existing conditions and exchange shopping. What say you?


Must be Obamacare

Children aren't living up to your expectations? Is your job satisfaction not what it used to be? It must be health reform.

These are just the same negotiations that happen every year across the country between insurance companies and hospital systems. Most of the time, these negotiations don't go well. Health reform doesn't really change matters much.

Steve, you make an interesting point. But the exchange mostly helps those with individual insurance policies. That will especially be true in the early years.

I think the more helpful trend encouraged by health reform is changing payment systems. Instead of haggling over the price of every procedure insurance companies could start providing global payments to hospitals to care for a set of patients. Then the hospitals and doctors could allocate money where they think it will most benefit the patient.