First came tiered drug benefits, in which employees paid higher co-payments for expensive prescriptions. Then came tiered hospital benefits, in which they paid more for costlier facilities. Now, according to the
How they work: Insurance companies rate doctors based on cost, quality of service and patient satisfaction. You'll pay more to visit the best docs. The goal: Encourage employees to use low-cost providers to reduce their premium costs.
Premera Blue Cross in Washington and California's PacifiCare launched tiered doctor plans this year. Aetna will introduce a plan in 2004. Others will follow.
The key: For tiered networks to lower premiums companywide, the minority of employees who account for the bulk
of health care costs must choose the most efficient doctors.