Network and non-network hospitals in 2022: what is the difference?

Network and non-network hospitals | Difference | Claim process | Health insurance | Group health insurance

Network and non-network hospitals difference

Over the years we have seen health insurance costs skyrocketing irrespective of metro and non-metro cities. It was common that private medical hospitals were charging higher for patients having health insurance coverage compared to those who don’t. Neither insurance policyholders nor the insurers loved this. 

In order to prevent this, health insurance providers tie-up with different hospitals across the country and include them in their “Network Hospital”.

This enabled two things -

☝️ Standardized pricing

✌️ Easy payments for policyholders.

This article covers everything you need to know about network hospitals and non-network hospitals to make informed decisions during health emergencies.

What is a network hospital in health insurance?

Every insurance carrier ties-up with a list of hospitals across the country. These hospitals are called the network hospitals of the particular insurer. You can generally find the list of network hospitals of a particular insurer on their website. 

💡 The fundamental advantage of network hospitals is the cashless claim facilities for the policyholders.

For instance, if you fall sick and get admitted to any of the listed hospitals (network hospitals), then you do not have to worry about any cash costs. Here your insurance carrier takes complete responsibility for bearing up the cost and directly settles with the hospital. 

Read: Top general health insurance companies in India 2022

What is a non- network hospital in health insurance? 

The hospitals that are not listed under the contract while issuing insurance from an insurance carrier are referred to non-network hospitals.

💡 Mind you, non-network hospitals do not provide health insurance policyholders with the benefit of cashless claim facilities. 

For instance, if there is an emergency and you have to go to a non-network hospital, you will be responsible for paying the medical bills all by yourself. You can only claim the costs after you meet the necessary documentation formalities for reimbursement. 

Read: GIPSA, PPN and empanelment

Understanding the difference between Network and Non-Network Hospitals through different scenarios 

Scenario 1 - Network hospital and cashless claim

Ms. Seema catches viral flu and gets admitted to one of the insurer’s network hospitals which is in her proximity. Seema’s sister comes to the hospital to help her out. All she has to do is inform the TPA, share policy details and submit a pre-authorization form. This is generally available in the hospital desk. Now, the TPA verifies and informs the hospital that Seema is pre-authorised and pays her medical bills. Here the hospital claims the bill from their insurance company. Seema does not have to submit any bills to the insurance company. Moreover, there is no waiting period to get a benefit.

However, as per the terms and conditions, there might be a case that she still needs to claim reimbursement from her insurance company. This is a rare incident to happen in a network hospital. In such cases, Seema pays the hospital and then files for reimbursement. If certain expenses are not covered under her policy then she needs to pay for only those uncovered expenses which are clearly communicated at the time of buying the policy. The remaining will get reimbursed.

Read: Role of TPA in health insurance

Scenario 2 - Non-network hospital and reimbursement claim

Mr. Tiwar had a sore throat from the past few days and decided to go see a doctor. He had a health insurance plan but got admitted to a non-network hospital. Here it makes no difference if Mr. Tiwari had a cashless benefit or not because he decided to get admitted to a non-network hospital. Because you can't get a cashless facility in a non-network hospital. After his treatment, Mr. Tiwari had to bear entire expenses on his own and later claim for reimbursement. Chances are that the claims can be fully or partially reimbursed by the insurance company after carefully reviewing the terms and conditions of the policy. 

One take away from these scenarios is that it is better to get admitted to a network hospital unless there is an unavoidable emergency. 

Differences between network hospital & non-network hospital

Parameters Network Hospital Non-Network Hospital
Definition The group of hospitals that are allied with your health insurance company. Regular hospitals in your proximity that are not allied with your insurance company or not mentioned in the hospital name list of the network hospitals of your insurance company.
Procedure/Formalities You can inform the TPA, get pre-authorized, and make cashless claims. You need to fulfill tedious formalities including form fill-up, pay upfront, file reimbursement within the specified time, gather and send all documents needed, keep track of claim status and much more.
Speed Faster claim settlement More time consuming compared to network hospitals
Process After you get pre-authorized at the hospital, the insurer will settle your bill. Policyholder will sign it at the time of discharge. Once you submit all the supporting documents to get verified by the insurance company, it takes 15-30 working days to reimburse your claim.
Cashless claim facility Available. Less network hospitals Available. More network hospitals
Waiting period 2 years for critical ailment treatment. 2 days for sickness. No waiting period
Maternity 26 weeks of salary in case of childbirth and 6 weeks of salary in case of miscarriage. The female employee should have worked for 6 months in the company If the employer buys a policy with maternity, it is given both to male and female employees. Male employees can cover their spouse. Delivery and newborn baby (up to 90 days after birth) are covered.

When to visit a non-network hospital?

After explaining the differences, it is crystal clear that you should always visit network hospitals. Only at the time of unavoidable health emergencies, it is advisable to visit the hospital nearest your proximity. In such unavoidable circumstances, it is unwise to start searching for a network hospital and waste time traveling. Even a second can make a huge difference in the time of a health emergency. 

Claim processing, formalities, and waiting time in network hospitals and non-network hospitals

To put it in a simple way, the claim process is always faster, smoother and hassle-free at network hospitals. All your paperwork and payment is taken care of and you really do not have to go through those tedious processes. If you are sick and have to get admitted to the hospital, you can simply walk into your network hospital and get the pre-authorization submitted. They will do the required due diligence before sending it to the Third-Party Administrator (TPA). The Third-Party Administrator (TPA) will process and approve your claim after going through all the terms and conditions of your health insurance policy. Once it is approved, the Third-Party Administrator sends you an authorization letter stating the treatment amount is now approved. Mind you, this entire process is completely cashless with no waiting time. 

In the case of a non-network hospital, it requires policyholders to pay the entire amount upfront, submit all the documents and bills then claim for the reimbursement. Here, the waiting period is 10-15 working days for verification. People face a lot of issues with their medical expenses not getting approved which means it has higher chances of not getting the approval. There is so much scrutiny around hospitalization claims at non-network hospitals not to forget all the hassle one goes through. 

Network and non-network hospitals in group health insurance

Network and non-network hospitals work the same way in group health insurance as well. Here, employees can avail of cashless claims in network hospitals and reimbursement claims in non-network hospitals. 

At Pazcare we make it all the more simple to access network hospitals and get claims settled. Employees can use the Pazcare app to check the network hospitals of their insurer based on the Pincode or locality. We also help employees with claims during health emergencies by providing all the information they need in such crucial times. Our customer support team is available 24x7 and is just a call away.

20,000 HRs have!
Subscribe here.

What you will receive in your inbox?
  • Guides on employee insurance and wellness
  • Surveys and reports
  • Updates on free wellness webinars
  • Features from Champions of HR - A Thought Leadership Initiative