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Difference Between Network Hospitals & Non-network Hospitals

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Home / Health Insurance / Articles / Difference Between Network Hospitals & Non-network Hospitals

With the advancement in the medical infrastructure, health care costs have also been on an upward trajectory, especially in metro cities. With the rising costs, access to good healthcare facilities and treatments at affordable costs has become challenging. This is especially true for the mid-income and lower-income groups. However, thanks to health policies, medical treatment has become easier and simpler! For example, with health insurance, you can safeguard yourself from rising medical costs in case of hospitalisation. Plus, you can still opt for the best treatment without worrying too much about the expenses. In fact, things get easier and hassle-free if you have availed of the cashless facility at network hospitals.

In this article, let us decode the terms network and non-network hospitals for you.

What are Network and Non-network Hospitals?
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To set a backdrop sometimes hospitals may levy higher charges to patients with a medical insurance policy than patients without a health policy. Hence, insurance companies partner with selected hospitals and negotiate costs to reduce their indemnity costs. Not just this, this also helps insurers offer seamless claims experience to their customers when they partner with hospitals. The results are faster claim settlement and improved customer satisfaction.

This arrangement also works in favour of network hospitals since they get more patients through the network of the health insurance companies. Hence, all the hospitals associated with health insurance companies are called network hospitals. On the other hand, all the hospitals outside this network or with whom health insurance companies do not have any association are called non-network hospitals.

Understanding How Network and Non-network Hospitals Work
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Having understood the basic definition of network and non-network hospitals, let us look at how it works and the role of a cashless facility. For that, let us take a few examples. 

Scenario 1: Mr. Mehta gets sick and needs to be hospitalised. He has availed of the cashless facility from his insurance company. He observes that one of the network hospitals is in proximity and offers the treatment suggested by medical practitioners. He gets hospitalised in one of the network hospitals and Mr. Mehta/his family member gets in touch with the Third-party Administrator (TPA) desk at the hospital. To simplify things, TPA acts as intermediaries between policyholders and insurance providers and plays a vital role in the smooth processing of health insurance claims.

Coming back to the example, Mr. Mehta’s family member then completes a quick documentation work, i.e., form-filling to avail of the cashless hospitalisation benefit. Once it is approved, Mr. Mehta can start the treatment, and the insurance company will bear all the expenses related to the hospital. Mr. Mehta only pays the deductible amount as per his policy document. Here, Mr. Mehta does not have to submit any bills/invoices to the insurance company. Also, there is no waiting period. Meaning, as soon as you share your health policy details, the hospital will immediately verify it. Once confirmed, all the hospitalisation expenses will be covered.

However, it is important to note that only his hospitalisation expenses would be covered. He may still have to claim reimbursement from his insurance company for medical expenses as per the terms and conditions.

Scenario 2: However, there is also a possibility that Mr. Mehta gets admitted to a network hospital but has not availed of the cashless benefit. In this case, Mr. Mehta needs to undergo treatment, get discharged, and claim reimbursement of the medical expenses. To claim reimbursement, he must follow a long and tedious process. First, he will collate all the bills and relevant documents and then share them with the insurance provider.

The insurance provider will evaluate his claim, assess the documents, and settle the claim as per the terms and conditions. The entire process may take a longer time to complete. However, not just time; in this case, Mr. Mehta also needs to arrange the funds for the treatment. This can become more stressful in scenarios where medical expenses are high.

Scenario 3: Mr. Mehta gets admitted to a non-network hospital. This may be because of the unavailability of the treatment in a nearby network hospital or an emergency. In this case, it does not matter if he has availed of the cashless facility or not. The process would remain the same as Scenario 2. He will get the treatment, pay the bills, get discharged, and then claim reimbursement.

In Scenario 2 and Scenario 3, the process is tedious, Mr. Mehta must arrange the funds, and it takes a longer time to settle the claims. Also, suppose the insurance company finds out the expenses are much higher than the standard/average expenses. In that case, it may partially settle a claim or even reject it based on the terms and conditions of the policy.

Network vs Non-Network Hospitals
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Here is a tabular representation of the classification between network and non-network hospitals.


Network hospital with cashless facility

Network hospital without cashless facility

Non-network Hospital


The policyholder gets admitted to a partner hospital and has availed of the cashless benefit.

The policyholder gets admitted to a partner hospital but has not availed of the cashless benefit.

The policyholder gets admitted to a non-partner hospital.

How does it work?

Here, the insurer settles hospitalisation expenses with the hospital directly. The policyholder pays the deductible amount as per the policy terms.

The policyholder will pay all the expenses and then claim reimbursement for it.

The policyholder will pay all the expenses and then claim reimbursement for it.

Waiting period

No. Once approved, the insurance company will settle the bill immediately.

Yes. Generally, there will be a waiting period of 10-12 days (which may vary with the insurer) between raising and receiving the claim amount.

Yes. Generally, there will be a waiting period of 10-12 days (which may vary with the insurer) between raising and receiving the claim amount.


Settlement is quick, The policyholder does not have to arrange funds, Comparatively hassle-free

Settlement takes time, The policyholder must arrange funds It is a tedious and long process

Settlement takes time, The policyholder must arrange funds It is a tedious and long process.

Words of Wisdom
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Having a health insurance policy with a cashless facility is very important to guard your finances at the time of medical emergencies. Without this facility, you may have to undergo a long and tedious process of arranging funds, paying bills, collecting invoices, and sharing with your insurer for reimbursement. Definitely, a time-consuming process and tedious efforts.

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Below are the answers to frequently asked questions about network and non-network hospitals.


What is the benefit of choosing a non-network hospital?

The primary benefit of a non-network is you can get the treatment in your preferred hospital as per your convenience. But do note that the disadvantages outweigh the benefits. In this case, you will have to arrange the funds and then raise reimbursement for it. The entire process right from raising a claim to settling claims is more time-consuming and exhaustive.

My parents stay in Pune while I am here in Mumbai, Can I cover all of us in a single policy?

Yes, you can cover your entire family in a single policy if they stay within the borders of the country.

What is a cashless hospitalisation?

Under cashless hospitalisation, you do not have to settle the hospitalisation expenses at the time of discharge from the hospital. In that case, the medical expenses will be paid by your insurance company.

Can I get cashless treatment in every network hospital?

For cashless treatment in one of the network hospitals, you must have a health insurance plan with a cashless facility. If you have not opted for the cashless facility, you must pay the medical expenses by yourself even if you are admitted to one of the network hospitals. Later, the costs will be reimbursed by your insurer.

How many types of claim settlement routes are available in health insurance policy?

There are three claim settlement options available in a health insurance policy:

  • Network Cashless Claim

  • Network Reimbursement Claim

  • Non-network Reimbursement Claim

Which one is the better option between a network and a non-network hospital?

Network hospitals with cashless facilities are always a better option than non-network hospitals. You can go for cashless treatment without worrying about medical expenses. However, opting for non-network adds a cumbersome documentation process after the discharge.

Why would insurers want a network of hospitals?

A vast network of hospitals helps insurance companies to process claims swiftly. Since they have a tie-up with the hospitals, they know how the hospitals functions and are well-versed with the kind of services it offers. This makes the claim verification process a lot easier.

Why would hospitals want to be a part of the insurance company’s network?

An insured person is most likely to visit a network hospital in case of health hazard as compared to a non-network hospital. Therefore, network hospitals get a competitive advantage in such a scenario.