DC Media: Provider Networks in DC

Friday, August 13, 2010

Narrow network health plans? Probably not in D.C.

Washington Business Journal – by Ben Fischer

Major health insurers will likely skip the Washington market as they test new plans that limit access to doctors in exchange for lower costs because the local work force is particularly unlikely to embrace such trade-offs.

In cities such as San Diego and New York, insurers United HealthCare Services Inc., Aetna Inc. and WellPoint Inc. are experimenting with “narrow network” plans, which promise premium cuts of up to 15 percent if patients are willing to accept fewer choices in doctors and hospitals.

The model, first attempted in the 1990s, was thought to be dead after consumer backlash, but some insurers are betting that recession-weary employers who pay their workers’ insurance premiums will reconsider now.

With the Washington area’s affluent population, high percentage of government workers and fragmented doctor and hospital market, however, insurers will continue to compete on access more than on price, say health care observers and company executives.

Kevin S. Wrege, Esq.

President

PULSE Issues & Advocacy LLC

4410 Massachusetts Ave., NW, #150

Washington, DC 20016

Office: 202-625-1787

Mobile: 202-253-4929

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