Do Narrow Networks Affect the Delivery of Outpatient Care in Neurosurgery? A Statewide Analysis of Marketplace Plans in New Jersey

Fareed Jumah, Tania Atanassova, Bharath Raju, Michael S. Rallo, Vinayak Narayan, Richard Menger, Rimal Hanif Dossani, Gaurav Gupta, Anil Nanda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: The aftermath of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) witnessed the rise of narrow networks, which feature fewer providers in exchange for lower premiums. Debate still continues on whether narrow networks provide adequate access to health care, especially in specialty care services such as neurosurgery. The objective of this article was to analyze the 2019 Marketplace plans' impact on delivering outpatient neurosurgical care in New Jersey. Methods: The 2019 Marketplace Public Use Files were queried for “silver” plans, identifying a total of 11 plans across 3 insurance companies. Online search engines were used to identify the number of in-network neurosurgeons within 20–25 miles of ZIP codes at the center of each county. The primary outcome was the number of neurosurgeon-deficient plans, defined as those having no in-network neurosurgeons within the assigned mile radius. Results: Of all individuals who purchased an insurance plan, 73% (185,797/255,246) opted for a silver plan. Out of 111 active neurosurgeons in New Jersey, 25% (28/111) did not participate in any of the silver plans. Analysis showed 8 plans as neurosurgeon-deficient in Sussex and Warren. Meanwhile, most of the silver plans provided access to >5 neurosurgeons within 20–25 miles of most (17/21) county centers. Conclusions: In more densely populated states such as New Jersey, the impact of narrow networks on neurosurgical coverage is less apparent. However, frustrations regarding access to care still exist because nearly 25% of neurosurgeons do not participate in the standard ACA insurance product. Furthermore, guidelines that define network adequacy in neurosurgery remain elusive, which calls for more robust parameters to monitor and ensure adequate access to health care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e213-e222
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
StatePublished - Sep 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


  • Affordable care act
  • Exchange marketplace
  • Health insurance
  • Narrow networks
  • Neurosurgery
  • Socioeconomics

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