When we talk about matters pertaining to your client’s insurance, you have probably heard the terms “in-network” and “out-of-network” care thrown around quite a bit by different healthcare provider including midwives. But what do these terms actually mean, and more importantly what do they mean for you as a midwife? How will these affect your practice and you be able to apply these terms to your midwifery practice?
What does in-network mean?
In-network refers to midwives that have direct contract with the health insurance plan to provide health care services to its plan members at a pre-negotiated rate. Because of this relationship, clients pay a lower cost-sharing when they receive services from an in-network midwife.
What does out-of-network mean?
Out-of-network refers to midwives who does not have a contract with the health insurance plan. If a client uses an out-of-network provider, health care services could cost more since midwives don’t have a pre-negotiated rate with the client’s health plan. Or, depending on the health plan, the health care services may not be covered at all.
Depending on the coverage the client has purchased, the plan has established deals with a wide range of midwives and other specialists. These are the health care providers that the insurance company considers in your client’s “network.” The insurer has identified a group of providers who are “in-network” and has contracted with these providers on the client’s behalf to get services at “discounted” rates. The primary advantage of using an in-network provider is that your client receives this negotiated or discounted rate for your services, and the insurance provider generally picks up a larger portion of the bill than with an out-of-network provider.
This means that as a midwife, once you’re in an agreement with the insurance company to accept your client’s plans and contracted rate as payment for your full services. This contracted rate that was negotiated by your client and its insurance company includes both the insurer’s share of the cost, and the part that your client will be responsible for paying. The part that your client’s responsibility for paying may be in the form of a co-payment, co-insurance or deductible depending on their negotiation.
Simply speaking, as a midwife, when you accept your client’s health insurance plan we say you’re in network. You will also be called as “participating providers.” When you don’t take your client’s plan, we say you’re out of network. The two main differences between them are cost and whether the plan helps you receive enough value for the care you provide as out-of-network provider.
Healthcare is an important aspect of our daily lives. As a healthcare provider, we are expected to give the best services to our clients and in order for our practice to keep on growing we must receive proper compensation out of that service. Remind your clients that they can avoid unexpected medical bills by knowing how their plan works. Certain choices they make can affect what they'll pay out-of-pocket. Know the difference between in-network and out-of-network care to help them save on health care expenses.
Outreach & Education. CMS.gov Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Health Insurance. (n.d.). Retrieved May 13, 2022, from https://marketplace.cms.gov/outreach-and-education