PROVIDER NETWORKS AND PRIMARY-CARE SIGNUPS: DO THEY RESTRICT THE USE OF MEDICAL SERVICES?


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Abstract

SUMMARYThis article analyzes the effect of gatekeeper and network restrictions on use of health-care services using simulation-based estimation methods. Data from the Community Tracking Survey (1996–1997) show significant evidence of selection into plans with gatekeeper and/or network restrictions. Enrollees in plans with networks of physicians have fewer office-based visits to non-physician medical professionals, but more emergency room visits and hospital stays. Individuals in plans that require signups with a primary-care provider have more visits to non-physician providers of care, more surgeries and hospital stays but substantially fewer emergency room visits. Enrollees of plans that do not pay for out-of-network services have more office-based and emergency room visits, but less surgeries and hospitalizations.

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