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Changing health plans? Check what channel your doc’s on before reaching for the remote

Just like Netflix has different shows than Hulu, different plans cover different doctors. Figure out whether you can get the docs you want – before you make a change.

By Kate Awsumb
August 2, 2017

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The kids are at Grandma’s, your husband snuck off to the office and you’ve got a pint of Chunky Monkey with your name on it. But when you sink into the couch and pull up Netflix, you freeze – The Mindy Project is on Hulu now, and you don’t have a subscription.

Just like Netflix has different shows than Hulu, different health plans have different doctors you can see at the lowest costs. These doctors make up what the plan calls their network. If you’re shopping for a new plan and want to stick with your current doctors, find out whether the plan covers them before signing up. If it does, you’ll save a lot of money. If it doesn’t, you may want to keep shopping.

Here’s how to figure out whether a new health plan has the docs you want:

If you’re just starting to shop…

Check with your doctor’s office.

If you’re only beginning to look at different health plan options, finding out what types of insurance your doctor accepts – and focusing your search there – is a good place to start.

  • Ask your doc. Call and ask your doctor’s office which health insurance plans they accept – and whether they know of any upcoming changes.
  • Double check. Before signing up for a plan, call the insurance company and confirm that your doctor is covered.

If you’re eyeing a specific plan…

Check with the insurance company.

If you’re narrowed it down to a health plan or two you think would be a good fit, find out whether your doctor is covered.

  • Look online. Many insurance companies’ websites have a search tool where you can look up your doctor and see whether she’s covered.
  • Pick up the phone. Call the company and ask – a plan representative can look up your doctor and tell you whether he or she's covered.

Why your network saves you money.

A health plan’s network is made up of doctors, specialists and health care facilities who agree to provide care for plan members at a discounted rate. If you get care in the network, the cost is lower, and your plan may pay for a bigger share of it. If you get care outside of the network, the prices are higher, and your plan might not pay as much (or at all).

Health plans aren't one-size-fits-all - and finding a great fit for your family is important. Talk to someone who can help match your unique needs with the plan that suits you best.

About Kate Awsumb

Kate Awsumb is a journalist and communications consultant for HealthPartners who has worked with many government, nonprofit, and private organizations to make health information easy to understand and easy to use. Her writing has been featured in the Huffington Post, Men’s Health, StarTribune, Minnesota Parent and the Twin Cities Moms Blog. She holds master’s degrees in health communication and public health, making her a perfect fit for the Health Insurance Help blog.Kate believes health is so much more than not being sick – it keeps us doing what we love, traveling to new places and chasing our kids around the backyard.When she’s not working, you’ll find Kate running, hiking, biking, rowing, snowshoeing, or otherwise on the move with her husband, young daughter and Boston terrier.

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