It may be the case, once all the details are in, that finding new doctors is the price the Cohens will have to pay for IBM’s continuing financial support. In an effort to control costs, insurers and employers increasingly are offering limited networks of providers—the ones who agree to steep discounts. And it will be important to watch this trend going forward—as one observer told the Journal, part of the advantage of a private exchange to a company like IBM is that it won’t have to do the dirty work of restricting coverage in the future.
But it’s important to move past the scare stories and into the details, because that’s the only way the press coverage can provide information that might help thousands of viewers navigate the system themselves. This segment did a disservice to NBC viewers. Before the network does another Medicare story, it would be a good idea for its producers to sit in on a Medicare counseling session at one of the state health insurance assistance programs and learn how the program works.
(Note: While the IBM retiree story is still available as part of Tuesday’s full episode on the NBC site, going to the link for the segment itself yields the following message: “This video is no longer available.” On Wednesday I asked NBC spokesperson Erika Masonhall for an explanation; she said she would look into it but at press time had not provided more information.)