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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Huckleberries Online

Blue Cross funneling Kootenai Co. customers into restricted health care network

For policyholders, that means having surgeries at Kootenai Health’s hospital in Coeur d’Alene and seeing doctors on the list of 450 health care providers who are in the network, all of whom are in Kootenai County.

“I don’t like it,” said 52-year-old real estate agent. “Not happy at all.”

Spencer sees an eye specialist in Spokane and his primary care physician isn’t part of the network. In the event of a surgery, he also wants to be able to pick the hospital or surgery center.

Northwest Specialty Hospital in Post Falls, which touts lower surgery costs than Kootenai Health, isn’t in-network. Neither are Spokane hospitals.

Under the new policy, getting care from out-of-network providers would raise Spencer’s annual deductible from $450 to $50,000, a punitive cost he said he couldn’t afford.

“They say they’re giving you a choice, but it’s not really a choice,” said Spencer, who has to decide whether he’ll renew his plan by Dec. 15.

More than 7,000 Blue Cross members in Kootenai County have received similar letters. The switch to the network model applies to Blue Cross members who buy Affordable Care Act policies through the state’s health marketplace exchange. Many members with individual policies also received the letters. More here. Becky Kramer, SR

Huckleberries Online

D.F. Oliveria started Huckleberries Online on Feb. 16, 2004. Oliveria's Sunday print Huckleberries is a past winner of the national Herb Caen Memorial Column contest.