Brown, colleagues, seek information on ghost networks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Medical patients face challenges in finding in-network providers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joined a bipartisan group of senators in sending a letter to United Healthcare, Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and Humana regarding “ghost networks” that present a challenge to patients in search of in-network providers.

According to a March 2022 GAO report, challenges include inaccurate or out-of-date information on provider networks.

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Ghost networks occur when providers are on an insurer’s website as being in-network but are either no longer in-network, not accepting new patients, or even still in business.

The problem of ghost networks is especially prevalent in mental health care and worsened during the pandemic as providers left their positions or stopped taking new patients due to overload.

“Ghost networks sow confusion and frustration among patients who are often in need of immediate care. Patients who lack the time and resources to sift through inaccurate provider directors may ultimately choose to forgo or delay needed health care. Others may be forced to pay out-of-pocket for a provider,” the senators wrote.

In addition to Brown, U.S. Sens. Ben Ray Luján, D-New Mexico, Steve Daines, R-Montana, Tina Smith, D-Montana, Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, signed the letter.