As a result of the Affordable Care Act, there has been a recent and growing trend where health insurance companies are now restricting which doctors and hospitals they make available to customers. This approach is being used to offset the ever-rising costs of healthcare, but can also benefit you in the way of lower premiums. But is it worth the risk?
With a narrow network, insurance carriers are typically able to negotiate lower contracted rates for services provided within a select group of providers and facilities, therefore keeping payments low, and in turn, premiums low for you. But what happens when you get sick and need a doctor?
When it comes to seeking medical care, finding a provider or hospital facility in your area could become a bit tricky – and sometimes almost impossible! Although you may find several primary care physicians in your area, your choices for specialty care are very limited. You may find yourself waiting long periods of time for appointments, or you may have to choose a provider further from your home to remain in your insurance plan’s network.
In places like New York, the restrictions can be so limited that certain plans offer no out-of-network coverage at all, and finding an in-network provider can be quite challenging! There is some saving grace, however, as the federal government plans to do its part to ensure there is a limit to how restricted a narrow network can become. Regardless of the past of these narrow networks, they are likely not going anywhere for quite some time. It’s important to check a plan’s network provider list before signing up for a plan to ensure you have ample access to providers. If you’re willing to accept the limited choices, the result could mean money in your pocket in the form of lower premiums!
The good news – your HSA Personal Advisor is here to help navigate you through the ever-changing health care system. Despite the possibility of narrow networks causing you difficulty or stress, it’s important to keep in mind that many worries can be put to ease simply by calling or making an appointment with your Personal Advisor.
Wiley Long is President of HSA for America, and a passionate advocate for consumer-based solutions that will improve price transparency and lower health insurance and medical costs for people purchasing individual and family health insurance plans.