Health plans are redesigning benefits to encourage the use of higher-value providers. Empowered by data, they have been able to identify providers with a demonstrated ability to deliver quality, efficient healthcare and they encourage members to use these providers by offering incentives such as reduced cost-sharing.
These high-performance networks, also called “narrow” networks, represent an important opportunity for plans to preserve benefits and keep premiums affordable in response to healthcare reform.
A recent study on small employers' perspectives on health insurance coverage found that most were interested in health plans with smaller provider networks if they resulted in lower costs. Specifically, a majority of small-employer respondents (57%) indicated that they would choose a smaller provider network if it resulted in a 5% reduction in premiums, and an even greater number (82%) would choose a smaller network if it resulted in 20% lower premiums. A poll of consumers also showed similar preferences.