Having health insurance is vitally important but knowing your coverage network is crucial too. If you need to go to an emergency room or urgent care center, you can save valuable time and frustration by knowing exactly which ones are in your network.
If you have traditional Medicare or a Group PPO, you most likely have the largest selection of facilities to choose from. These plans provide for the widest choice and largest number of network providers.
An HMO however, will ask that you not only use an “in-network” facility but also one that is in your physicians group. For instance here in Coachella Valley, the two most prominent groups are Empire Physicians Group and Desert Oasis Physicians Group. No matter who your insurance is with, if one of these groups are listed on your ID card, you will receive faster service and have less out of pocket expenses if you use urgent care facilities that are within that group.
With Individual PPO plans (for those under age 65) your care is not provided by a single physicians group, but you still have less out of pocket costs if you use “in-network” facilities.
In any of these situations, it is best to know before you need it. The best way to know for sure, is to sign up for an online account with your insurer. On the back of your ID card, there should be a “consumer-facing” website listed. Using your member ID number, you can register for access to that site, and then research all facilities in your area.
Once you have registered on the website, download their app as well, and sign in through the app. The app can provide immediate, up-to-date information to help locate the nearest emergency room or urgent care. Many of the apps also provide a virtual ID card, should you not happen to have yours when you need it.
If you can’t register online or on the app, then the back of the ID card should also have a phone number for “member services.” Call them and ask them to look up urgent care and ER in your area.