AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Thousands of state employees in the panhandle are having to search for new doctors following a change in their health insurance plan offered by the state.
People in our area who now have Blue Cross Blue Shield HealthSelect insurance have been calling their doctors only to learn they will not accept this new plan.
All state employees were switched to this plan on September 1st.
The decision was made by the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS), which is aware that thousands of people in the panhandle are struggling to use this program and are working to solve it.
Some panhandle residents are now having to travel to to see specialists no longer available in Amarillo under their new insurance, which is not easy for most people.
"We have to rely on going to Lubbock, which is a two hour trip, maybe an hour and a half if I drive fast," said one concerned HealthSelect carrier. "My husband, he doesn't get around too well, so I have to take off a day when we go to Lubbock."
Some local doctors have already changed their plans to include HealthSelect coverage, like all Texas Tech doctors, Family Care Clinic of Pampa, and Amarillo Stat Care.
"I probably had about 10 calls before, starting in July that they needed me to switch to continue to see me," said Kayla Mabery, FNP-C and Owner of Amarillo Stat Care. "I found out we were not in network, and actually switched my plans with Blue Cross Blue Shield to include HealthSelect."
One health insurance creditor said he thinks more doctors aren't signing up to cover HealthSelect because they think it's a low-reimbursement plan.
"I think a lot of providers get confused when they hear Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO they think of another HMO product that Blue Cross has called Blue Advantage HMO and that's the product for Obamacare plans," said Bryan Williams, President of Moxie Healthcare Solutions. "So I think when doctors hear Blue Cross HMO they automatically assume it's the Obamacare network and they don't want to take that one because the reimbursement is so poor on that plan."
Some doctors in Amarillo will not be working to adjust their plans.
Amarillo Medical Specialists sent a letter to their patients (pictured below) stating they would not be taking HealthSelect insurance because of the low reimbursement.
State Senator Kel Seliger said he's gotten lots of calls to his office about the plan and is working with ERS and Blue Cross Blue Shield to fix this problem.
"If people can't use their insurance, it's the same as having no insurance," said Seliger. "Everyone's been responsive so far. We have an ongoing dialogue with the Employees Retirement System and with Blue Cross and we're expecting some time next week to start getting an explanation."
Blue Cross Blue Shield has declined to comment on the matter.
Mabery reminds patients that it's up to them to check with their doctors any time there's a change in insurance to make sure they're still covered.