Ed Sealover, Denver Business Journal

“Insurers are cutting costs by shrinking the number of doctors in some of their provider networks. That can mean longer waits for appointments, patients who have to change doctors, and financial stress for small physician practices. But insurers and some regulators argue it’s finally slowing annual double-digit increases for health insurance…

A first look at the numbers of providers in each network suggests that insurers are offering sufficient options for customers to receive the health care they need, Salazar said. And she emphasized that affordability of the plans must be considered along with the accessibility to care in determining what system can get Coloradans both to purchase insurance and to get the care that they need.

“I really don’t have significant concerns right now,” Salazar said of narrowing networks. “I think that’s the best way these insurance companies have to save money. I need to support that.”

A prominent consumer advocacy group agreed. Matt Valeta, health policy analyst for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, did his own research into network adequacy and concluded that most networks have between 20 and 100 hospitals available to patients — a yardstick that suggests sufficient customer choice.

“I think that the general trending is that these networks may be a little smaller than they have been in the past,” Valeta said. “But I think narrow networks are, in some way, responding to what consumers want. When premiums are the number-one concern, this is one way that can happen.””

Read the full article here

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