This article is intended for members enrolled in an individual health insurance plan.

Having a good relationship with your primary care provider (PCP) is an important way to make the most of your health coverage. Your PCP helps make sure you use your wellness benefits and manages your care when you need it.

Your PCP is usually familiar with specialists in the area. Your doctor also may refer patients to certain hospitals, clinics or labs.

So why do we say members should shop for care? If your PCP has certain providers he or she wants you to go to, doesn’t that mean you’re questioning your PCP’s instructions if you ask for other options? Technically, yes. But doctors expect questions. They also know as well as you do that health care costs are rising.

However, your PCP may not know specifics about the cost of the hospital, clinic or lab where he or she is sending you. The tests, labs and procedures can vary significantly for the same service in the same area. So considering a cheaper option can make a big difference for your budget. You may want to let your PCP know that the share of the costs you pay out-of-pocket can squeeze your monthly budget if you are given more costly tests and procedures.

Your PCP’s priority, like ours, is your care. Your PCP would rather you get the tests or services that you need than put them off or skip them because money is tight. That is true even if you decide to get those tests or services done somewhere that may not be your PCP’s usual choice.

Giving you options is a big reason that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois provides Provider Finder®. This online tool can show you more detail about doctors and procedures than you may realize. Take it for a spin to see for yourself.

What Kind of Details? Value and Cost

Log in to Blue Access for MembersSM (BAMSM), go to the Doctors and Hospitals tab, then Find a Doctor or Hospital.

Provider Finder has get medical care and find a cost search options. You can click on these options or type what you’re looking for in the search bar.

Get Medical Care
To find a doctor, hospital, lab or outpatient facility, you can enter the name or specialty in the search bar or use the tiles to help you search. You will see a listing of many professionals and facilities. When you click on a provider, you will see third-party quality indicators, member ratings and reviews, and awards and designations where applicable.

You may also see enhanced information such as specialties, office hours, education, languages spoken, publications, medical group and hospital affiliation, and more. You can even compare providers.

Find a Cost
To get a cost estimate and see how much you may pay before having a procedure or test, you can click on the Find a Cost tile, or simply type in what you are searching for, such as “mammogram” or “MRI of the brain.”

You will see cost breakdowns, including how your copay or coinsurance applies to your deductible and out-of-pocket maximum for most networks. If you have chosen a less cost-effective provider, you will see a “Cost Alert” at the bottom of the screen. This will show you value options and how they compare to your choices. If we see a way for you to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars while still getting the care that you need, we can tell you.

In addition to doing your Provider Finder research, it is always best to call providers before making appointments to confirm details. Make sure that they are part of your plan network and provide whatever test or service you need.