Health insurance, as everyone knows, can get very costly, very quickly. That’s why consumers, researchers and policy makers alike are constantly trying to find new ways to get quality care without breaking the bank.
Recently, a team of researchers, including an economist, a political scientist and a professor of medicine, took a look at different models of health insurance and their overall performance in the state of California. Their goal? To find out whether plans with narrow networks—those being health care networks designed to offer access to a limited, carefully curated and more modestly priced community of physicians and facilities—could really provide affordable access to top-quality care. They concluded that narrow plans saved their members money on premiums and also offered access to care that was just as high quality—or higher!—than plans with more extensive networks. This led the researchers to suggest that one advantage of narrow networks is the ability for insurers to cut out all but the best-performing hospitals from the plans they offer patients.
These findings are more than just an academic curiosity: they promise real savings to real people. For example, the most popular family plan offered by one narrow network provider in the New York area would cost you $800 less per month* in premiums than a comparable plan from one of the big insurance companies offering a traditional network. That amounts to savings of almost $10,000 a year.
Is a narrow network right for you? If you see a number of doctors at a wide variety of institutions and can’t imagine switching, then the answer may be “no”. But if you’re flexible and interested in saving money, then a narrow network may be just the right fit.
Here’s how to get started. First, check just who the narrow network covers: one centered in your community may already include your local hospital, physician and other health care professionals you already know, see and trust. Then, request a quote online; one company that offers narrow network plans in the New York area is CareConnect. At CareConnect.com, you can compare plans, prices and features, as well as find out which doctors and hospitals are in the plans, to decide which one works best for you and your family.
*Estimate is based on a comparison between publicly available rates.