Health insurers in several big cities will take some pain out of doctor visits this year — the financial kind.
They'll offer free visits to primary care doctors in their networks.
You read that right. Doctor visits without copays. Or coinsurance. And no expensive deductible to pay off first. Free.
In Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and more than a dozen other markets, individuals seeking coverage from the insurance exchanges can choose health plans providing free doctor visits, an insurance benefit once considered unthinkable. The improvements are rolling out in a limited number of plans following reports that high copays and deductibles have discouraged many Americans who signed up for private coverage the past two years from using their new insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Insurers say they hope encouraging visits to doctors will benefit members and their bottom lines by catching illnesses early before they become harder and more expensive to treat.
For example, prescribing antibiotics promptly to a patient with pneumonia could avoid a lengthy hospitalization costing tens of thousands of dollars. In addition, the policy could also cut down on the use of more expensive urgent care centers and emergency rooms.