South Dakota proposal that could increase doctor choice for patients splits medical community

South Dakota medical patients could have more choice of doctors within their health insurance networks if voters approve a ballot measure that is drawing strong opposition from the health insurance industry.

Initiated Measure 17 seems simple enough: doctors who agree to the conditions set forth by insurers, including payments for services provided to patients, could join the insurer's preferred provider list. Preferred providers, also known as in-network, usually are less expensive than those outside of a network.

But the measure is controversial, with specialty hospitals and many doctors in favor, while insurers and large health care hospital systems are opposed.

Even though South Dakota is a small market, the insurance industry is watching closely because similar proposals have been considered in other states including Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.