Many California employers are making cuts to the health care providers that are listed with their insurance providers. Companies are attempting the stymie rising insurance premiums as their insurers attempt to mitigate the growing costs of medical care. Many are unwilling to outright discontinue their offering of medical benefits, however, and are opting instead for smaller scale networks that offer limited choices in terms of medical providers. This increasingly popular trend is netting some companies as much as a 25% saving in insurance costs.
Nearly 21 million people are a part of the small insurance networks, which are experiencing a period of rapid growth as they garner more interest from employers. More than 10,000 employers have enrolled in these networks since the height of the recession in 2008, and the recent institution of health care reform is set to drive these numbers even higher.
While the small networks have a lower cost they also provide fewer coverage options. Some of the largest employers in California have made the switch to such networks, with many employees discouraged to find that they will no longer be able to see their favored physicians.
“I liked my doctor,” says Beverly Prange, a migrant education specialist that is now receiving coverage from one of these “narrow” networks. She says that she has less flexibility with her current plan than what was available in the past.
It is difficult to weigh the value of a doctor’s connection with their patient against the cost of insurance, but more companies are taking it upon themselves to draw the line in the sand. As it happens, the majority are in favor of reducing their cost rather than keeping their employees relationships with their physicians in tact.