Narrow networks and health insurance exchanges: I’m quoted

National health plans and high priced providers are staying away from California’s new health insurance exchange at least for now. But other health plans have signed up; some of which are offering affordable benefit plans with narrow provider networks.

I’m quoted on how narrow network plans are gaining a foothold in Massachusetts. It’s true both on the Connector (our exchange) and also in the individual/small group market.

You can read the story on California Healthline.

Here’s what I said:

But will narrow networks work? And will consumers care?

Evidence from Massachusetts — which instituted its own health insurance mandate and exchange half-a-dozen years ago — suggests that the model can succeed “when plans contract with providers that are pursuing a low-cost strategy, rather than with those that are simply granting temporary discounts to pick up volume,” David E. Williams, president of the Health Business Group, told California Healthline.

For example, Williams cites Fallon Community Health Plan in Massachusetts, which “partners with Steward Health Care System to offer a narrow network product for about 20% less than comparable plans with broader networks.” The plan has been popular with certain individuals and employers who are purchasing coverage through the state’s Health Connector and can see side-by-side pricing, Williams adds.

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