What is a health insurance network?

January 26, 2016

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In technical speak:

A health insurance network is a list of doctors, specialists and hospitals that your health insurance provider has a relationship with. These medical professionals and establishments are contracted to offer you services at a specified rate.

In normal speak:
Doctors, specialists and hospitals can decide whether or not to partner with a health insurance provider (Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, etc). If the doctor/specialist/hospital agrees to the provider’s terms, they will become part of their network.

There are four types of networks in health insurance: POS, EPO, HMO and PPO (most PPOs are going away though. Read our blog post on why). You’ll have the option to buy one of these plan networks when you apply for health insurance. Before you buy, check with either the provider or your doctors to make sure your medical team is in the network you’re interested in. Having your medical team in your network will ensure that you won’t pay out-of-network costs (i.e expensive) on medical services.