Provider Network Instability: Implications for Choice, Costs and Continuity of Care

Publication Date: June 2001

Publisher: Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): Ashley C. Short; Glen P. Mays; Timothy K. Lake

Research Area: Health

Type: Brief


Many health care issues of greatest concern to consumers- including provider choice, costs and continuity of care- depend on health plans' ability to maintain adequate networks of hospitals, physicians and other caregivers. When providers drop out of plan networks, consumers may suddenly face the choice of changing caregivers or paying more for out-of-network care. Network instability is increasingly common in health care markets across the country and can arise from health plan-provider contract disputes and provider organization insolvencies. This Issue Brief, which is based on the Center for Studying Health System Change's (HSC) 2000-01 site visits to 12 nationally representative communities, examines this growing trend and the implications for consumers, including diminished choice and higher costs.