Narrow Networks: Boon or Bane?

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<p>Some health plans sold through the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) health insurance marketplaces use "narrow networks" of providers to control health care costs. Limiting consumers' choice of doctors and hospitals is not new, of course, and, in fact, the ACA for the first time requires insurers to provide their enrollees with a minimum level of access to local providers. Nevertheless, some consumer advocates and ACA critics still find narrow networks objectionable.</p><p>In his latest <a href="/blog/2014/reflecting-health-reform-narrow-networks-boon-or-bane">Reflecting on Health Reform blog post,</a> Commonwealth Fund President David Blumenthal, M.D, says that narrow networks are the inevitable result of relying on competition to control health care costs. Before the ACA, insurers often kept prices down by limiting benefits or cherry-picking healthy customers; today they must compete on price by controlling the costs of care. </p>
<p>While governments in most other developed countries negotiate provider reimbursements to allow for unrestricted provider choice, in the U.S. "such centralized regulatory solutions are anathema, except in the case of Medicare," Blumenthal writes. "But so, it seems, is the pain that private competition inflicts on patients, who, to great public consternation, find they can't use the doctor or hospital they want." </p>
<p>Read the complete post on <a href="/blog/2014/reflecting-health-reform-narrow-networks-boon-or-bane">The Commonwealth Fund Blog.</a></p>