A lot of metro-east residents are feeling anxious right now as they realize that having medical insurance and having a hospital that will accept it are two different things.
Memorial Hospital in Belleville is now out of the United Healthcare network, and St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Belleville and Aetna Insurance are set to end their association on July 1. Maybe the hospitals and the insurance companies still will work things out, but that's cold comfort for the Memorial and St. Elizabeth patients who have these particular insurance companies and need care right now.
Call it the storm before the storm of Obamacare, which is set to go into full effect in 2014.
There is still so much uncertainty about how that will play out and how providers will be paid that hospitals and insurance companies alike are trying to lock in the most beneficial reimbursement rates ahead of that. As one area resident put it, it's an economic game of chicken.
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The whole point of the Affordable Care Act is to ensure that everyone has access to insurance. But a lot of good that will do if people don't have easy access to medical care options.