Picking a health plan based on whether it includes your preferred doctor or hospital just became a reality for ACA plans this week with a new feature unveiled at healthcare.gov.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services announced Tuesday the rollout of the new “Doctor Lookup” feature, which was created in response to consumer demand. In the near future, CMS will also add a similar option allowing patients to pick plans based on whether they cover their prescription drugs, all part of an effort to fuel transparency and improve the consumer experience when shopping on the marketplace.
“The future for CMS is to create an open-source environment that drives innovation for the consumer,” Andy Slavitt, acting administrator, said in a press release. “By requiring data transparency from health plans and providers and by releasing the information in a machine readable format, we are using consumer demand to accelerate that change," Slavitt said. "This fits in with our strategy and should make experiences like Marketplace Open Enrollment better for consumers.”
The federal agency plans to a use a phased-in approach at the start of Doctor Lookup, with only one in four consumers, selected at random, able to use the feature. CMS plans to gather data on the consumer experience, according to the release, in order to fine-tune the offering ahead of the full rollout. Consumers are warned that some data may be missing or inaccurate, and health plans can continually change with doctors or facilities or in their network, so it’s wise to check with providers to make sure they’re still covered.