rcm glossary

Participating physician (PAR)

Participating physician (PAR) is a healthcare provider who has agreed to accept the payment terms and conditions of a specific insurance plan or network.

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What is a Participating Physician (PAR)?

A participating physician, often abbreviated as PAR, refers to a healthcare provider who has entered into an agreement with an insurance company or a healthcare payer to accept their predetermined payment rates for medical services rendered to patients covered by that particular insurance plan. In other words, a participating physician is a healthcare professional who has agreed to be part of a specific network of providers and has agreed to accept the terms and conditions set forth by the insurance company or payer.

When a physician becomes a participating provider, they agree to accept the insurance company's approved fee schedule as payment in full for covered services. This means that the participating physician will not bill the patient for any additional charges beyond what the insurance company allows. Instead, the insurance company will reimburse the physician directly for the services provided to the patient.

Difference between Participating Physician (PAR) and Non-Participating Physician (Non-PAR)

To better understand the concept of a participating physician, it is essential to differentiate it from a non-participating physician (non-PAR). While a participating physician has agreed to accept the insurance company's predetermined payment rates, a non-participating physician has not entered into such an agreement.

Non-participating physicians, also known as out-of-network providers, do not have a contractual relationship with the insurance company or payer. As a result, they are not bound by the insurance company's fee schedule and can set their own rates for services rendered. When a patient seeks care from a non-participating physician, the insurance company typically reimburses the patient directly, and the patient is responsible for paying the provider's charges out-of-pocket.

The key difference between participating and non-participating physicians lies in the reimbursement process. Participating physicians receive payment directly from the insurance company, while non-participating physicians receive payment from the patient or insurance company after the patient submits a claim for reimbursement.

Examples of Participating Physicians

To provide a clearer understanding of participating physicians, here are a few examples:

1. Dr. Smith is a primary care physician who has signed an agreement with an insurance company to become a participating provider. Patients covered by that insurance plan can visit Dr. Smith without worrying about additional out-of-pocket expenses beyond their copayments, deductibles, or coinsurance. Dr. Smith will bill the insurance company directly for the services provided.

2. Dr. Johnson is a specialist in orthopedic surgery who has chosen not to become a participating provider with any insurance company. Patients who have insurance coverage with a different company will still be able to see Dr. Johnson, but they may have to pay a higher percentage of the charges out-of-pocket since he is considered an out-of-network provider. The insurance company will reimburse the patient directly, and the patient will be responsible for paying Dr. Johnson's charges.

3. ABC Medical Group has a network of participating physicians who have agreed to accept the insurance company's payment rates. Patients who choose to receive care from any of the physicians within the ABC Medical Group will have the advantage of lower out-of-pocket costs and a streamlined billing process. The insurance company will directly reimburse the medical group for the services provided to their covered patients.

Benefits of Being a Participating Physician

Becoming a participating physician can offer several advantages for healthcare providers:

1. Increased Patient Volume: Participating physicians are often listed in the insurance company's provider directory, making it easier for patients to find and choose them. This increased visibility can lead to a higher patient volume, helping physicians grow their practice.

2. Streamlined Billing Process: Participating physicians typically have a simplified billing process since they submit claims directly to the insurance company. This eliminates the need for patients to handle the paperwork and reduces the administrative burden on the physician's office.

3. Predictable Reimbursement: Participating physicians have the advantage of predictable reimbursement rates. By accepting the insurance company's predetermined payment rates, physicians can better plan their revenue and financial stability.

4. Patient Satisfaction: Patients who are covered by the insurance plan in which a physician participates can benefit from lower out-of-pocket costs. This can enhance patient satisfaction and loyalty, as they are more likely to continue seeking care from a participating physician.


In summary, a participating physician (PAR) is a healthcare provider who has agreed to accept the predetermined payment rates set by an insurance company or payer. By becoming a participating provider, physicians can benefit from increased patient volume, a streamlined billing process, predictable reimbursement, and improved patient satisfaction. It is important for healthcare providers to carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of participating in insurance networks to make informed decisions about their practice's financial viability and patient accessibility.

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