What Parents Need to Know about Colorado’s Health Systems

Over the past few years, health providers have been expanding their services across Colorado, building more drive-up ambulatory facilities for urgent care and x-rays, especially along the Front Range. It can be a challenge to navigate what is a complex system. As technology has changed, so have health systems, with a push toward outpatient care. The reason for this is because whereas hospitals must operate 24/7 and can be prohibitively expensive; it’s become increasingly popular to go to smaller clinics, as many conditions can be treated at urgent care facilities, some that even handle small surgeries.

I have noticed that as I’m driving around town, I see UC Health on one corner, SCL on another, as well as Centura and Health One nearly everywhere I go. As a parent, I have often wondered, as I see so many different facilities around me, where I would go if I had an emergency? The first place I see? Well, it turns out that’s not necessarily a good idea.

According to Vice President of Finance for Centura’s Denver Metro Group, Matt Leary, it’s extremely important for consumers to understand what comprises their insurance provider’s health care network.

“Parents need to spend the time to understand what facilities and physicians their insurance company covers so they won’t have sticker shock when they find out they’re responsible for a hefty medical bill later on,” he said. “All emergency rooms must take patients who need care, but if that facility is outside of your provider’s network, you won’t necessarily have the insurance coverage you might expect.”

After speaking with Mr. Leary, I immediately called my insurance provider to find out exactly which hospitals near me would cover my family for any sort of emergency and now I know. I wrote the information down so I have it where everyone in my family can see it in case of an emergency.

“It’s very important that when you select your insurance, you consider its provider network because many companies have narrowed their selection with a range of different product costs,” added Leary.

“One of the best ways to help manage your cost of care is to select a primary care/family physician for your family that is in your insurance network.  Almost all of them provide a physician or physician extender after hours, so if a sudden illness or minor injury happens after hours the best thing to do is to call your primary care/family physician office and ask if the situation requires immediate attention or if it can wait until the morning, or if on a weekend, do you need a ER or an urgent care center.”    

In order to reduce the complexities and increased costs of health systems in Colorado, hospital systems such as Centura Health are making significant strides toward being transparent by focusing on partnerships that benefit not only patients, but insurance companies, physicians, and hospitals.

Centura Health itself meets the wellness needs of more than half a million people each year through its network of hospitals, affiliate hospitals, emergency rooms, mountain clinics, urgent care centers, and health neighborhoods, as well as Flight for Life Colorado. Understanding that all health systems work through a network of facilities and providers is imperative in making the most out of health care decisions for your family.

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