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

Has this happened to you: You call to make a doctor’s appointment. You’re hoping to get into the office the same day. The receptionist asks if you’re willing to see the physician assistant (PA) or nurse practitioner (NP).

Did you wonder how you should answer?

PAs and NPs generally work under the supervision of a physician as part of a medical team or office. You also may have met a PA or NP when visiting a retail or urgent/immediate care clinic.

They are licensed to provide limited health care services. If a prescription is needed, they may be able to handle that, too. 

Today, there are more than 115,000 certified PAs and more than 234,000 licensed NPs in the U.S. The numbers continue to grow as PAs and NPs help doctors provide care for the over 8.1 million health care visits that occur each week.

Health Insurance Coverage: The Same Rules Apply

When using your Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois health plan, an important first step is to make sure you’re seeing a provider — whether it’s a doctor, PA or NP — who’s in your network.

If you visit a provider outside your network, you may have to pay more for your care. In some cases, you may have to pay the full cost.

Need to find a network provider? Here’s how to get started:

Start with a search. Your health plan works with a group of doctors, specialists and health care facilities. This is known as your provider network. Before you see a provider, log in to Blue Access for MembersSM (BAMSM) and select the Doctors and Hospitals tab. There you can search for providers and facilities in your network.

If you’re not already registered for BAM, register today. It’s easy. Just go to and follow the instructions.

When in doubt, call. If you have questions after checking online, call the customer service number on the back of your member ID card for more information.