What is a health network?

Before we get into how to find out if a doctor is in your network, let’s break down some basic definitions, starting with “health network.”

When you hear the term “health network,” it is a reference to everything that your insurer is connected with. This might include:

  • Facilities (including hospitals, long-term care facilities, etc.)
  • Suppliers (of things like prescription medication and medical equipment)
  • Providers (such as doctors, nurses, and other health professionals)

If these entities are within your insurer’s network, it means that they are contracted to provide services that are covered by your provider. In other words, you are only covered for medical services that are provided by facilities, suppliers, and providers that are within your insurer’s network.

Obviously, this means that you should do everything in your power to visit providers that are within your network. If you visit providers that are out of your network, you will incur higher costs. This is why many patients in the United States try to check if a doctor’s within their network before figuring out whether to visit them for appointments.

Why networks can be confusing.

That being said, some insurance plans may cover out-of-network services – but not all. Others may only cover a certain percentage of the costs. Generally speaking, all insurance plans provide coverage for emergency out-of-network coverage. For example, you might be traveling through a different state when a car crash occurs, forcing you to visit a local hospital that is out of your network. Fortunately, your insurer will not penalize you for this. 

In addition, your insurer may provide coverage for out-of-network providers if those services are unavailable within your network. Essentially, insurers want to keep you within your network unless there’s absolutely no other choice. After all, insurance companies are businesses, and their goal is to earn as much profit as possible. If they cover you for services provided by healthcare organizations that are not under contract, they typically lose money. 

The most frustrating part about all of this is that your insurer will often offer virtually no assistance when it comes to finding out which providers are within your network. This is considered your responsibility. Many patients make the mistake of simply assuming that a particular provider is within their network – only to get a nasty surprise later when they’re forced to pay the entire bill. As a general rule, it’s always a good idea to call your insurer to confirm that a provider is within your network before moving forward. 

The phrase “health network” often gets confused with the concept of a “hospital network.” These are actually two different things. A hospital network is basically just a health care system with two or more hospitals under its umbrella. These organizations may be public, nonprofit, or for-profit in terms of their structure. Despite its name, a hospital network may provide a range of services – not just hospitals. These networks are not necessarily associated with the health insurance industry or “health networks” in the context of health insurance. Hospital networks have been around long before the rise of healthcare in the United States, and the earliest examples of these organizations can be traced back to the Greeks and the Romans. In the middle ages, the Knights Hospitaller become one of the well-known hospital networks. 

With all that said, some of the largest hospital networks are run for profit, and they exist within the United States's private healthcare system. HCA Healthcare, for example, offers almost 50,000 hospital beds – more than any other hospital network in the world. The Veterans Health Administration is another example of a record-setting hospital network in the United States, having the most staff members with over 330,000 individuals.

Different plans offer different types of networks:

  • Exclusive Provider Organization: Also known simply as an “EPO,” an exclusive provider organization only offers cost-sharing coverage for providers within the predetermined network. When you choose an EPO, you must pay the full cost of your medical expenses unless you visit providers within your network. But as previously mentioned, you are always covered in the case of an emergency. 
  • Preferred Provider Organization: Otherwise known as a “PPO,” a preferred provider organization also gives you cost-sharing benefits if you visit providers within the network. However, it also gives you some cost-sharing assistance if you visit providers outside of the network. For this reason, a PPO is generally recommended if you place a higher value on freedom of choice. It also allows you to visit specialists without first getting a referral from your primary care provider. 
  • Point of Service: A “POS” or point-of-service plan allows you to pay less for visiting providers within your network – just like PPO and EPO plans. However, you will also have the opportunity to visit providers outside of your network at a discounted rate. This results in a higher monthly premium for a slightly more flexible plan. 
  • Health Maintenance Organization: Another common type of plan is called a health maintenance organization – or “HMO.” With this plan, you’ll only receive coverage for visiting providers within your network. So what’s the difference between an HMO and an EPO? HMOs are unique because they often include wellness programs, prevention programs, and other forms of integrated care. HMOs also represent the cheapest option for health insurance. 

As you can see, your network may change somewhat depending on which plan you choose. In addition, some plans make it easier to visit providers outside of your network. Keep these factors in mind when you choose not only your health insurance provider, but also your specific type of plan.

How do I determine which networks my doctor is in?

The first step is to make a list of every provider you use on a regular basis. This might include your primary care provider, your local hospital, your local pharmacy, and perhaps providers for services such as chiropractic care or physiotherapy. Once you have a complete list to work with, consider calling your insurance provider and checking whether or not they are within the network. 

You can also visit healthcare.gov to compare and contrast insurance providers. This page also allows you to search for specific providers, such as your primary care provider or local pharmacy. If you go down your list and search all of your providers, you should be able to see which networks they’re part of on this government website. 

If you accidentally sign up for an insurance plan that doesn’t include your doctor in its network, it’s important to switch to a new plan as quickly as possible. You are allowed to switch plans before the date that your coverage begins. If you wait too long to cancel your plan, you may be left with a gap in your coverage. Fortunately, there are many options that allow you to cover this gap with a short-term insurance alternative – such as CrowdHealth. 

Another option is to contact your insurance provider and request that your doctor be considered in-network. Sometimes, certain exceptions are granted – so it’s definitely worth trying.

Why do doctors choose a specific network?

Doctors may choose specific networks for a range of reasons. If you discover that your chosen primary care provider has chosen a specific network, they might have made this decision based on career incentives. For example, they might have been offered a higher wage with a network that your provider doesn’t cover. Your provider’s network isn’t “bad” or sub-par just because your doctor chose a different network. 

They might have chosen to work in a specific geographic area because they enjoy the neighborhood. Perhaps they’d rather live in a rural setting than a big city. Maybe they have chosen a facility with fewer patients in an effort to make their job easier. For the most part, doctors choose career paths based on their best interests – not because a certain network is inherently better or worse.

How does this affect my health insurance plan?

Your network of choice affects your health insurance plan in many ways. You will need to choose an insurance provider with a network that contains your targeted healthcare providers – whether that’s a family doctor, a chiropractor, a pharmacy, a rehab center, and so on. Your goal is to choose a health insurance plan that contains as many of your chosen providers as possible. 

Of course, a traditional health insurance plan isn’t your only option for healthcare coverage. You can also opt for one of the many health insurance alternatives, such as CrowdHealth. One of the main benefits of choosing this particular option is that you no longer have to worry about doctor networks. This healthcare funding option works in a different way, and networks do not factor into the overall system. The basis of this strategy is crowdfunding, which means that you pay a monthly fee to receive coverage for your medical bills. 

All you really need to do is visit any doctor, pay your medical bills, and then upload the receipt to the CrowdHealth app. From there, CrowdHealth will facilitate member funding, allowing your medical bill to be crowdfunded smoothly and easily. If your medical bill costs more than $500, you only need to pay the first $500. For the remainder, you can submit a crowdfunding request quickly and easily with CrowdHealth. 

But the lack of doctor networks isn’t the only benefit associated with CrowdHealth. This option also offers $0 deductibles, unlimited virtual health services, unlimited talk therapy, discounted prescriptions, personal care advocacy, and much more. CrowdHealth will even negotiate on your behalf, lowering your medicals even further. A single male in his 30s can expect to pay about $175 per month with CrowdHealth, while an equivalent health insurance plan would cost him more than double that. 

But why don’t CrowdHealth members need to worry about doctor networks? Basically, the only reason these networks exist is that certain insurers have existing contracts with certain networks. These contracts help both parties agree on prices, giving insurers more stability and predictability while providing networks with plenty of new customers. CrowdHealth doesn’t have any of these contracts with networks, so each case is handled on a fair, case-by-case basis that ensures total flexibility and affordability. 

If you’d like to get started with CrowdHealth and forget about doctor networks altogether, you can begin the process today. Contact CrowdHealth’s knowledgeable, helpful team members who can answer all the questions you may have as you take the plunge.

Talk to a CrowdHealth Specialist

People Love CrowdHealth

As a physician in practice for over a decade, I'm immersed in the problems we face in healthcare. CrowdHealth is the most impactful solution to restoring the doctor patient relationship that I've seen.
Dr. Maryanna Barrett, MD
Owner of Thrive OBGYN 
Healthcare desperately needs viable alternative payment approaches. I am thrilled to see CrowdHealth leading the way.
Dr. Tanya Stewart, MD, MBA
Former Chief Clinical Transformation Officer, United Health Group
The vast majority of people in this country are enjoined in an insurance contract they never wanted. CrowdHealth aims to change the terms of this spectacularly bad contract.
Dr. Mark Napoli, MD, FACC
CEO, Cor Medical, Inc.
Everyone should have affordable healthcare options. I’m thrilled to see Crowdhealth partner with real estate agents as this is a huge obstacle in our industry.
Mallory Mundy
Team Leader, Keller Williams Southwest Market Center
I've never understood why Realtors have to pay more for quality health care just because we are entrepreneurs. CrowdHealth is providing a true solution to our community combating the high costs of traditional health insurance.
Natalie Hengel
Broker / Partner, 8z Real Estate
I am excited to see CrowdHealth help today’s and tomorrow’s entrepreneurs who now have the freedom to pursue a dream without giving up an important safety net.
Mark Strub
Broker/Owner, Strüb Residential, Compass
Healthcare desperately needs viable alternative payment approaches. I am thrilled to see CrowdHealth leading the way.
A photo of the author of the quote
Dr. Tanya Stewart, MD, MBA
Former Chief Clinical Transformation Officer, United Health Group
As a physician in practice for over a decade, I'm immersed in the problems we face in healthcare. CrowdHealth is the most impactful solution to restoring the doctor patient relationship that I've seen.
A photo of the author of the quote
Dr. Maryanna Barrett, MD
Owner of Thrive OBGYN
The vast majority of people in this country are enjoined in an insurance contract they never wanted. CrowdHealth aims to change the terms of this spectacularly bad contract.
A photo of the author of the quote
Dr. Mark Napoli, MD, FACC
CEO, Cor Medical, Inc.
As a physician in practice for over a decade, I'm immersed in the problems we face in healthcare. CrowdHealth is the most impactful solution to restoring the doctor patient relationship that I've seen.
A photo of the author of the quote

Dr. Maryanna Barrett, MD

Owner of Thrive OBGYN

Healthcare desperately needs viable alternative payment approaches. I am thrilled to see CrowdHealth leading the way.
A photo of the author of the quote

Dr. Tanya Stewart, MD, MBA

Former Chief Clinical Transformation Officer, United Health Group

As a physician in practice for over a decade, I'm immersed in the problems we face in healthcare. CrowdHealth is the most impactful solution to restoring the doctor patient relationship that I've seen.
A photo of the author of the quote

Dr. Maryanna Barrett, MD

Owner of Thrive OBGYN

ON

Related Resources

More information to get you going.

Cheap Health Insurance in Georgia: CrowdHealth Plans Provide Affordable Coverage

CrowdHealth is disrupting the insurance industry through crowdfunded health plans with no monthly premiums, deductibles, physician networks, or profits-before-people attitudes.

Share

Searching for an Obamacare Alternative? Check Out These Alternatives!

Obamacare was introduced back in 2010 with three primary objectives. In 2019, the Obamacare mandate was lifted – allowing people to choose alternatives. Some states continue to enforce Obamacare, which means that you may incur financial penalties if you refuse to get this form of health insurance.

Share

CrowdHealth Health Plans Are Top NY Private Health Insurance Alternatives

Signing up for our budget-friendly crowdfunding health plans is great for consumers looking for alternatives. Most NY state health insurance plans leave customers guessing when they'll enjoy the full benefits of their coverage.

Share

Looking for Alternative Health Insurance? Here Are Some Alternative Health Plans to Consider:

There are many notable insurance alternatives that can be more affordable and effective. Typical health insurance plans in the U.S. are regulated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Insurers must follow a number of guidelines when creating and selling plans within this federal-regulated insurance marketplace.

Share

How to Check if a Doctor is in Network: How to Verify Networks and Find an In-Network Doctor

If you visit providers that are out of your network, you will incur higher costs. This is why many patients in the U.S. try to check if a doctor's within their network before figuring out whether to visit them for appointments.

Share

What is Christian Health Insurance? How Christian Healthcare Helps with Medical Care

Members pay monthly fees that go towards one central pot of money. They also tend to have a pre-negotiated preferred provider network. Many health sharing plans are emerging as viable alternatives to traditional health insurance.

Share

Looking for Affordable, Cheap Healthcare? Choose the Best Health Insurance and Boost Your Health Care

Some reports state that the cost of private health insurance could rise by about 10% by 2023 - more than double the rate of inflation. The cost of prescription drugs is also rising at a staggering rate.

Share

CrowdHealth Florida Health Plans Are Fantastic Cheap Health Insurance Alternatives

Our health coverage is derived through crowdfunding efforts from a group of like-minded people. The goal of paying for health care through crowdfunding is to eliminate many of the coverage restrictions associated with Florida insurance plans.

Share

Finding Affordable Health Care (Health Insurance) – How to Choose the Best Plans for Reliable Health Coverage

Many Americans are struggling to find affordable health insurance plans. There are more options for affordable coverage than you think. Assessing your options can be a little challenging.

Share

Healthshare: Could This Be the Best Way to Protect Your Health? Share the Costs and Say Goodbye to Traditional Health Insurance

Healthshare is an alternative to traditional health insurance in the United States. There are many similarities between healthshare and a normal health insurance policy.

Share

How Medical Cost Sharing Plans Allow You to Share Your Healthcare Costs: Why Health Care Sharing Could Be Your Most Affordable Option

Health ministries are cost-sharing, crowdfunding insurance alternatives for people from all walks of life. The very first health ministries can be traced back to the early 1900s in Amish and Mennonite communities.

Share

What’s the Deal with Health Ministries, and How Do They Affect Healthcare?

Health ministries are cost-sharing, crowdfunding insurance alternatives for people from all walks of life. The very first health ministries can be traced back to the early 1900s in Amish and Mennonite communities.

Share

How to Get Health Insurance After Open Enrollment

In the U.S., there is only one period throughout the year when most people can sign up for health insurance or switch plans. During this period, insurers are not allowed to turn down applicants due to their health status – including any pre-existing health conditions.

Share

Choosing the Best Gap Insurance for Short-Term Coverage

Gap insurance is an ideal way to ensure you're protected from financial hardship in the event of a medical emergency. Gap insurance should not be viewed as a long-term insurance solution, as there are several disadvantages associated with this type of coverage.

Share

A New Way of Looking at Affordable Health Insurance Plans in Texas

CrowdHealth is looking to flip the health insurance paradigm on its head with plans are designed to help the public access essential care without breaking the bank.

Share

Affordable NY Health Insurance Coverage Through Crowdfunding

Our plans don't have huge monthly premiums or deductibles, and don't ask New Yorkers to foot huge medical bills. Instead, we leverage a vibrant community of active Members to negotiate health care expenses.

Share

Bridge Health Insurance: Why This Type of Short Term Health Insurance Offers Plenty of Benefits and Health Coverage

These insurance plans often come with no coinsurance and no co-pays. CrowdHealth uses a crowdfunding business model to provide individuals with an alternative to traditional healthcare insurance.

Share

CrowdHealth: One of the Most Affordable Healthcare Coverage Alternatives to Cheap Health Insurance in Illinois

CrowdHealth is a low-cost, stress-free alternative to health insurance plans in Illinois. Members make contributions to a health fund each month that helps pay their medical bills.

Share

CrowdHealth Plans Are the Best Alternatives to Cheap Health Insurance in Texas

CrowdHealth is a unique alternative to health insurance plans in Texas. Our health plans cover medical expenses via crowdfunding.

Share

CrowdHealth Coverage: A Fantastic Alternative for Cheap Health Insurance in Virginia

Using CrowdHealth as an alternative to VA health insurance or regular health insurance can help you save on medical expenses while also giving you more freedom when selecting care providers.

Share

Crowdfunding Plans Provide Affordable Health Insurance Alternatives in Florida

Floridians struggle to find the care they need at prices they can afford. CrowdHealth's plans provide health coverage with no networks, no premiums, no deductibles, and maximal transparency.

Share

Seeking Cheap Health Insurance in Colorado? Get Coverage Through Crowdfunding Instead

CrowdHealth is an alternative to traditional health insurance in Colorado. Our crowdfunding plan leverages the negotiating power of many to secure lower costs for each Member.

Share

One of the Most Common Insurance Questions About Health Coverage: Can I Cancel My Health Insurance at Any Time?

Open enrollment in the individual market lasts from November 1st to December 15th.

Share

What to Do When COBRA Runs Out: Your Next Steps After Coverage Ends

COBRA is geared towards American workers who lose their health benefits. This type of coverage gives them temporary coverage under their previous group plan for a limited amount of time.

Share

CrowdHealth: Make Crowdfunding Medical Bills, Health Expenses, and Medical Costs Easy

CrowdHealth is a true alternative to the current health insurance system. Submitting your medical bills to CrowdHealth will recoup your costs. We are network-free, letting you and your family visit any provider you want. Even signing up is a simple process. Your monthly membership includes a care advocate that negotiates large health bills for you.

Share

Healthcare Simplified

Sign up and meet your Care Advocate

Get personal support through all the complexities of your health care, from appointments to billing, and crowdfunding for you when you need it

Choose or keep your existing doctors

No networks or restrictions, so you can get the best care for an affordable price

Tap into the power of the crowd

Our community of like-minded individuals helps each other pay for medical bills instead of lining insurers' pockets

CrowdHealth vs "Affordable" Insurance

How can we charge so little and be better than insurance?

Have Questions?

Talk to a CrowdHealth Specialist.