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UT Southwestern Is Opting Out of Obamacare

It's Open Enrollment Season, which is like Christmas time for Obama-lovers who don't have room for real Christmas in their hearts. Last season, the imaginary place people call "Dallas-Fort Worth" had more people signing up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act than any other region in Texas. All in all, the Affordable Care Act providers boasted a total of 277,015 new DFW customers. Unlike rural Texas, where some people "hope Obamacare goes down the toilet,” people in Texas' urban areas have generally embraced Obamacare, last year's numbers suggest. Some of our urban hospitals, on the other hand, are not looking as enthusiastic. 

In a statement on its website, UT Southwestern explicitly warns people:

Affordable Care Act

If you plan to obtain coverage through this option, please note that UT Southwestern University Hospitals and Clinics will not be contracted with any of the insurance plans currently available through the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplace during the 2016 calendar year.

UT Southwestern's spokesman hasn't yet replied to questions about the decision. "It's not uncommon for hospitals to not participate in the Affordable Care Act because they're not satisfied with the contract provisions that are being offered by insurers in their area," says Dr. Gerald F. Kominski, a health policy professor at UCLA. He says hospitals often opt out of the Affordable Care Act not to make a political statement but only as a practical matter. "What it [the Affordable Care Act] has done is create a more competitive market place."

What that means for health care providers is that insurance policies purchased through the Affordable Care Act's exchanges pay much less for services than private or employer-sponsored insurance. 

There are few surveys or lists available to document all the hospitals that have decided not to contract with insurers under Obamacare. The Associated Press conducted a survey last year and found that many of the nation's elite cancer hospitals are "off-limits" to people under Affordable Care Act coverage, including the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. But even then, "off-limits" wasn't completely off-limits. MD Anderson Cancer Center was reportedly available on "less than half" of the plans offered under the insurance exchange. All in all, only four cancer hospitals in the entire nation gave patients access to all the insurance providers offered in the state exchange. 

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