The numbers are in. A new study from the University of Pennsylvania has found that roughly 75% of the healthcare plans created by The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) have profoundly low numbers of physicians in their networks. Narrow networks, as they are sometimes called, are used to contain the cost of medical care by offering lower premiums to patients but severely limiting the number of doctors they can choose to receive care from. The doctors chosen for these narrow networks are ones who have been found to provide quality care at the lowest possible price. Southern California small business health insurance plans are also affected by narrow networks.
The popularity of narrow networks in small business medical insurance plans is skyrocketing, however, only Florida, Georgia, and Oklahoma have a higher percentage of narrow network providers than California. 41% of networks across the nation are known as narrow networks.
Keeping premium costs low is the goal, however larger insurance companies have drastically limited the number of doctors and hospitals that their clients can see. This directly impacts theÂ Southern California small business health insuranceÂ plans available to small businesses and their employees.Â While patients enjoy not having to pay high premiums, they also enjoy being able to choose what doctors they prefer. Some feel that with more and more narrow networks popping up, they are being forced in a way to choose cheaper doctors rather than the physicians they prefer to see.
While many times customers can research what doctor they would like to see before choosing an insurance policy, this still doesnâ€™t tell them if the doctor is in a narrow network for primary care physicians or specialists. Currently there is no way of finding this information before enrolling in a plan.
It has been suggested that a system be created for these networks that would be similar to clothing sizes. A â€œsmallâ€ narrow network would have very few doctors participating whereas a â€œlargeâ€ or â€œextra largeâ€ narrow network would have many more participating physicians. Critics of the narrow network program feel that the customers arenâ€™t given an opportunity to become fully informed before making important insurance policy decisions. This system would help alleviate that problem and give more power back to the consumer.
Southern California small business health insurance companies enjoy being able to control costs by using narrow networks, however, they have yet to figure out how to address consumer concerns. Insurance officials feel that narrow networks simply provide a trade off for consumers; lower premiums for limited physician choice. To them itâ€™s just one of those times in life when you canâ€™t have your cake and eat it too.
Narrow networks vary according to state. Some states have more narrow networks than others. They also differ according to plan type. InÂ Southern California small business health insurance,Â more than 90% of the HMO networks were considered narrow networks as opposed to only 33% of the PPO networks. Officials claim, however, that networks have been continually expanding to meet the needs of the patients. Some doctors, however, are not willing to accept certain policy holders as new patients. Something Obamacare creators failed to keep in mind is that, whether they want to admit it or not, healthcare is a business and these doctors need to be able to make a living. Gone are the days when doctors were envied for their sizable incomes. These days, doctors tend to think twice before accepting patients with certain insurance plans in order to avoid losing too much income.