NBC Reports ObamaCare May Force People to Change Doctors, Skips President's Promise to the Contrary

Leading off Saturday's NBC Nightly News, fill-in anchor Kate Snow declared: "Healthy choices? Big challenges ahead for when the new health care law takes effect. Will you have to change your doctor?" However, in the report that followed, not one word was mentioned of President Obama's repeated promise that people would be able to keep their own doctor under the new law. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Introducing the segment, Snow reiterated: "When the Affordable Health Care Act goes into effect on October 1, a lot of Americans around retirement age will have some challenging choices to make. Like, should they switch to a new kind of health care coverage? And if they do, will that mean changing doctors?"

In the report itself, chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman desperately tried to push positive spin: "Next year, people looking to buy their own health care will have more options through the Affordable Care Act's new online marketplace....A new study finds that between 500 and 900,000 people...could choose to stop working or retire early based on their new options."

However, she acknowledged: "Experts caution there is more to consider than price." A sound bite followed of CNBC's Bertha Coombs warning: "You want to look and see whether your physician, whether the specialists that you use, are in the networks that are offered by those plans. So a plan that might look cheaper on the exchange but doesn't include your network, could end up costing you more."

After admitting that "some states like Ohio report premiums could rise more than forty percent" under ObamaCare, Snyderman quickly turned to more optimistic projections: "But promising news from others like New York, where rates may drop more than fifty percent. Marilyn Stern of West Islip says a new plan makes sense for her. She retired early, and today pays nearly $800 a month for limited coverage."

On Tuesday's Nightly News, correspondent Lisa Myers reported on small businesses being forced to cut hours for their employees ahead of the health insurance mandate in ObamaCare.


Here is a full transcript of the August 10 segment:

6:30PM ET TEASE:

KATE SNOW: Healthy choices? Big challenges ahead for when the new health care law takes effect. Will you have to change your doctor?

6:43PM ET TEASE:

SNOW: When NBC Nightly News continues on this Saturday evening, the surprises you may face when the new health care law takes effect.

6:46PM ET SEGMENT:

KATE SNOW: When the Affordable Health Care Act goes into effect on October 1, a lot of Americans around retirement age will have some challenging choices to make. Like, should they switch to a new kind of health care coverage? And if they do, will that mean changing doctors? NBC's chief medical editor Doctor Nancy Snyderman reports.

NANCY SNYDERMAN: Sixty-two-year-old Patty Sutton works the early morning shift at Starbucks.

PATTY SUTTON: Do you want to try a French press?

SNYDERMAN: But this previously-retired Barista didn't go back to work for a paycheck.

SUTTON: I am there for health insurance. That's about the only reason I'm there.

SNYDERMAN: Sutton wants to retire again, but her insurance from Starbucks covers herself and her husband, Scott, who is permanently disabled. They're too young for Medicare and can't afford independent coverage that would allow them to keep their current physicians.

SUTTON: We have to stay with our doctors, you know, they're specific to what he needs, specific to what I need.

SNYDERMAN: But next year, people looking to buy their own health care will have more options through the Affordable Care Act's new online marketplace.

KEVIN LUCIA [PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY HEALTH POLICY INSTITUTE]: They'll be able to compare prices for plans and see the different types of plans that are available to them.

SNYDERMAN: A new study finds that between 500 and 900,000 people, like Sutton, could choose to stop working or retire early based on their new options. But experts caution there is more to consider than price.

BERTHA COOMBS [CNBC]: You want to look and see whether your physician, whether the specialists that you use, are in the networks that are offered by those plans. So a plan that might look cheaper on the exchange but doesn't include your network, could end up costing you more.

SNYDERMAN: Most plans vary by location, and won't come out until September. Some states like Ohio report premiums could rise more than forty percent. But promising news from others like New York, where rates may drop more than fifty percent. Marilyn Stern of West Islip says a new plan makes sense for her. She retired early, and today pays nearly $800 a month for limited coverage.

MARILYN STERN: A lot of people can't afford health insurance. And when you do get health insurance, like I – I've done in the last year independently, it's just very costly.

SNYDERMAN: Until Patty Sutton learns more about Arizona's plan, she remained cautious about changing her coverage. But she's hopeful the exchange offers a ticket back to retirement.

SUTTON: I want to go in there and be a Starbucks customer instead of a Starbucks employee.

SNYDERMAN: Today, she's concentrating on care. Doctor Nancy Snyderman, NBC News, New York.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC