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What is a narrow network?

There’s more to it than lower costs

When you search for a health plan on External Site, you are looking at a broad range of options. While you’re comparing premiums, copays, deductibles and coinsurance, there is another important factor to consider: the network.

One strategy for saving on your monthly premium is to consider a plan with a narrow network. Narrow networks have lower monthly premiums with a tradeoff: coverage is limited to a select group of health care providers.

What are narrow networks?

Narrow network plans are similar to health maintenance organizations (HMOs) in that they limit coverage to a select group of physicians, specialists and hospitals. Lower rates are negotiated with participating providers and the savings are passed on to you.

But there’s more to it than lower costs. Because narrow networks are typically more selective in the number of providers who participate, they are often value-based health plans. This means the providers have proven that they have higher measured quality and better outcomes for patients, so you don't have to sacrifice your quality of care.

When to consider a narrow network

While you’ll have a smaller pool of providers to choose from, a narrow network plan might be suitable for you if you live in the service area, your preferred doctors and hospitals are in the network and you are generally healthy.

Before choosing a plan with a narrow network, it’s important to do your homework:

  1. Be aware that you are choosing a plan with a limited network so you don’t have surprises down the road.
  2. Understand that with narrow networks, there are typically no benefits for medical services outside the network, except in the case of emergencies or accidental injuries.
  3. Review the provider directory Opens New Window to see if your physicians, specialists and hospitals are in the network.

Compare individual and family plans in Iowa

Wellmark's plans are designed specifically for individuals and families. When you download the plan comparison guide, you'll get a more detailed look at the plans and an enrollment checklist to help you pick a plan.

New narrow network plans in Iowa: Wellmark Blue HMO | Unity Point Health

Wellmark and UnityPoint Health — two brands you know and trust — have joined together to offer a variety of value-based health plans for individuals and families who purchase health insurance on their own through

What you need to know:

Narrow networks map

It’s available in select counties in Iowa. To enroll, you must be a resident of Iowa and live in the Wellmark Blue HMO | UnityPoint Health network service area List.

Affordable health insurance copays

You'll get affordable plans with low copays. You’ll have lower, predictable copays for primary care visits with your main UnityPoint Health doctor and Tier 1 prescription drugs.

Free virtual visit UnityPoint platform

There are free virtual visits. For no additional cost, you can connect face-to-face with a health care provider using a smartphone, tablet or computer, using the UnityPoint virtual platform.