Check Provider Networks Before You Buy

Check Provider Networks Before You Buy

Check Provider Networks Before You Buy

What is a Provider Network?

You might know that premiums, copays and deductibles are important considerations when selecting the best health insurance plan for you. But did you know that a plan’s provider network should also be an important factor in your decision? Before you compare health insurance plans, keep reading and learn what to look for.

Health plans use select groups of doctors, hospitals and other health care professionals who work together to provide a full range of covered health care networks. Some plans’ provider networks have fewer doctors and hospitals than others. Plans with smaller networks may have lower monthly premiums than plans with larger networks, but this also means that smaller networks limit your options for which doctors are available under that plan.

To keep costs low when using your plan, you’ll want to make sure you stay “in network,” which means using the doctors and other health care providers that are in the plan’s network you selected. If you visit a doctor outside of your network, you may have to pay more for your care. In some cases (such as HMO plans), you may have to pay the full cost when you go out of network. This is what is called an “out-of-pocket cost”. If you compare health insurance plans to check that doctors, specialists, hospitals and urgent care centers are in your plan’s network before you buy a health plan, it can help you better control your expenses when you or your family receive care.

Tip: For our health insurance plans, use the BCBSTX Provider Finder® online to see what doctors, hospitals and urgent care centers are in network for the plan you are considering to buy. Provider Finder is also the place to go to check for doctors or any specialists you need to see after you have coverage.

Compare Insurance Plans In-network or out-of-network Provider Network TXProvider Networks: HMO vs PPO
The two most common health plan networks are HMOs and PPOs -- there are other networks as well. An HMO may have lower monthly premiums, but your Primary Care Physician will coordinate your care within the network and a referral is required to see a specialist. In a PPO plan, you may pay a higher premium but have greater freedom to choose doctors and hospitals and do not need referrals. 

Because this can be a big factor in your medical visits, here are some questions to ask yourself as you select your health plan:

  • How important is it that I have a lot of doctors and hospitals to choose from?
  • Am I okay with paying a higher monthly premium to potentially have more provider choices?
  • Have I checked to see if my frequently-visited doctor, specialists, hospitals or urgent care centers are in the plan’s network that I selected?

Still needing some help? Below are some examples to help give you a better understanding:

Compare health insurance plans examples

Last update: 10/3/2017