What does in-network care mean?
In healthcare, networks refer to medical care providers who are under contract with insurance companies to care for certain customers. When you sign up for an insurance plan, there is a list of doctors and other providers who are part of your insurance network.
Insurance companies are often more willing to split costs within these networks, and the medical providers can give discounts. That way, care you receive that's "in-network" will be cheaper than out-of-network care.
Should I only see providers who are in-network?
The importance of in-network care varies from plan to plan. However, staying in network whenever possible is beneficial. You can call your insurance or check their website to find doctors within your network.
In most cases, if you are working with a primary care provider, they will do their best to recommend specialists within the network. You can always verify with them before scheduling an appointment. Making sure your care is in the network can take an extra few minutes, but it can save you a significant amount of money.