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California Hospital Networks Are Narrower In Marketplace Than In Commercial Plans But Access And Quality Are Similar

Author: Simon F. Haeder, David L. Weimer, Dana B. Mukamel
$15.00

Do insurance plans offered through the Marketplace implemented by the State of California under the Affordable Care Act restrict consumers’ access to hospitals relative to plans offered on the commercial market? And are the hospitals included in Marketplace networks of lower quality compared to those included in the commercial plans? To answer these questions, we analyzed differences in hospital networks across similar plan types offered both in the Marketplace and commercially, by region and insurer. We found that the common belief that Marketplace plans have narrower networks than their commercial counterparts appears empirically valid. However, there does not appear to be a substantive difference in geographic access as measured by the percentage of people residing in at least one hospital market area. More surprisingly, depending on the measure of hospital quality employed, the Marketplace plans have networks with comparable or even higher average quality than the networks of their commercial counterparts.

Do insurance plans offered through the Marketplace implemented by the State of California under the Affordable Care Act restrict consumers’ access to hospitals relative to plans offered on the commercial market? And are the hospitals included in Marketplace networks of lower quality compared to those included in the commercial plans? To answer these questions, we analyzed differences in hospital networks across similar plan types offered both in the Marketplace and commercially, by region and insurer. We found that the common belief that Marketplace plans have narrower networks than their commercial counterparts appears empirically valid. However, there does not appear to be a substantive difference in geographic access as measured by the percentage of people residing in at least one hospital market area. More surprisingly, depending on the measure of hospital quality employed, the Marketplace plans have networks with comparable or even higher average quality than the networks of their commercial counterparts.

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