Frequently Asked Questions
What is an IPA?
IPA stands for "Independent Physician Practice Association". Independently practicing physicians (physicians with their own practices) join an IPA, and you as member of that IPA can see any of these doctors. This is in contrast to a medical group or medical center, where all the doctors work in the same building. The doctors usually contract with several insurance carriers/health plans.
Why is it important that I select an IPA?
You and your family's healthcare is important from the first doctor visit onward, and you want to select a high-quality IPA that will best fit your needs and expectations. When you sign up for healthcare and don't select an IPA, your insurance carrier will randomly assign you to one. Torrance Hospital IPA (THIPA) prides itself on its unique personal touch. We are a medium-sized IPA with about 500 physicians of all specialties. Our physicians have trained at prestigious medical centers. If you need to go to the hospital, you will be cared for at the award-winning Torrance Memorial Medical Center. Our members have access to a team of Care Management nurses who will help you with your medication, appointment and medical education needs. We have a team of expert Member Services representatives that you can call with your questions about anything related to your care. All calls are answered within the same business day.
What makes THIPA special?
The people in Torrance Hospital IPA's leadership are doctors and nurses. Our doctors are dedicated to your care. We give medical care the personal touch: when you call, a live person will take your call. We will escort you through the complicated maze it takes nowadays to get good care. You don't need referrals for seeing many specialty physicians, such as cardiologists. THIPA has many special programs for seniors that educate and deliver superior healthcare. We believe in personalized, compassionate and cutting-edge medical care.
How many physicians can I choose from?
We have close to 500 physicians of all specialties.
Which hospitals does THIPA use?
If you need to go to the hospital, you will be cared for at the award-winning Torrance Memorial Medical Center.
What about quality improvement?
Torrance Hospital IPA leadership continuously monitors the healthcare providers' quality of care. We set ambitious goals every quarter, with the goal of constant improvement in the care we provide our members.
Our members should expect a prompt and courteous appointment process, a respectful, informative physician who is up to date and communicates openly with their patients and caregivers, as well as receive timely test results and patient callbacks.
Torrance Hospital IPA's doctors are measured on all of these criteria: patient access to the doctor, patient satisfaction and physician clinical skill. It is our goal is to help our physicians practice excellent medicine.
Please click here to learn more about THIPA’s P.A.R. program.
Do I need to inform my physician if I change insurance?
Yes. Always inform your physician's office when you change insurance. Your insurance coverage may vary with a new policy and your physician needs to know this.
Do I need to inform my physician when I change medical groups?
Yes. Your physician may have contracts with several provider groups. Each provider group has different policies regarding referrals and has a different panel of specialists. To make sure that you are referred to the right specialists, let your physician know if you change medical groups.
Should I always show my insurance card when I visit my physician?
Yes. It is best to always present your most current insurance information at each visit.
What if I lose my insurance card?
If you lose your insurance card, call your health plan member services department and they will send you a new card.
WIll my newborn baby be covered under my insurance?
Yes. Your newborn baby will be covered under your insurance for the first 30 days following birth. During that time, you must enroll your newborn as an individual so there will be no lapse in coverage.
What if I have more than one insurance policy?
Let your physician know. There are different policies regarding different insurance that you and your physician need to follow. You will not be able to coordinate benefits between your insurance policies unless your physician knows you have this option.
Can family members each select their own primary care physician?
Yes. Each family member can select a different primary care physician. For example, a woman may select a family practitioner, her husband an internist, and their children a pediatrician.
Can I change my primary care physician?
Yes. You may change your primary care physician by contacting your health plan. Call the health plan member services telephone number on your insurance card.
If you do plan to change your Primary Care Physician, please be sure they are a THIPA Physician.
Click here for a full list of THIPA physicians and specialists.
How do I get a referral to a specialist?
Our referral process is fast and easy. With our Direct Referral, your primary care physician (PCP) will directly refer you to our specialty physicians. In addition, THIPA has added self-referral for certain specialties. With our Self-referral Benefit, you don't need to see your PCP first to get an authorization. Using this benefit, you can call the doctors within a certain specialty for an appointment. Click here to see a list of participating physicians in our self-referral program. We have a large number of specialists available, so if you are already receiving specialty care, please check with your PCP to ensure a smooth transition of care.
May I change my PCP and still have the Self-Referral benefit?
Yes. You may change primary care doctors and still have this benefit. However, you must be a member of THIPA in order to receive the THIPA Self-Referral Benefit. Regardless of what insurance you have, as long as you are a member of THIPA, you can benefit from the THIPA Self-Referral Benefit.
What do I do if I have a medical emergency?
Assess if it's a true emergency. Ask these questions:
- Are you having difficulty breathing, pain to the point of crying or a sudden inability to move or talk? If so, call 911 or go to the Emergency Room.
- Is your life or body/organ function in danger? If yes, go to the Emergency Room right away or call 911. If not, going to the ER might not be the best decision. You will get excellent care in an Urgent Care or your doctor's office, you will not wait as long, and your copay will be lower. Studies have shown that care for non-emergency conditions is superior at your doctor's office than at an Urgent Care or Emergency Room.
- Is your symptom related to an illness you have? If so, seeing your doctor might be the best choice: since she knows you best, she will be able to give you the best treatment.
- Is it one of these conditions: twisted ankle, a superficial cut to the arm, pain on urination or moderate belly pain? If so, Urgent Care might be the most convenient and cost-effective way for you to get great treatment.
If you have a true life-threatening medical emergency, you should call 911 or go to the nearest hospital or emergency room immediately. If the situation is serious but not life-threatening, the emergency room at Torrance Memorial Medical Center is your best resource. The physicians there have access to many of your medical records and can provide you with the best care.
Be aware that if you need care after hours and it is not a true emergency, your insurance may not cover the costs of a visit to an emergency department other than Torrance Memorial Medical Center.
Where do I go if I need urgent care?
If you need Urgent Care during regular business hours, it is best to see your primary care physician, since (s)he is familiar with your health. If you are unable to get an appointment with your primary care doctor, call THIPA Member Services. They will be able to help you get an appointment or refer you to an Urgent Care.
If you need urgent care (that is not an emergency) outside of regular business hours, we recommend our Urgent Care Center for the shortest wait. The THIPA Urgent Care Center is staffed by THIPA physicians.
How do I know whether to go to the Emergency Room, Urgent Care or my doctor's office?
Always try to call your doctor first. If it after hours, you can call your health plan clinical help line:
Aetna: (800) 556-1555
Anthem Blue Cross: (800) 249-3617
Blue Shield: 24/7 Nurse Help Line (877) 304-0504.
Care 1st: (800) 544-0088 (press 4 if you are a member and would like to speak to a Nurse to get health advice)
Cigna/Great West: (800) 564-9286
Health Net (Commercial - Decision Power): (800) 893-5597
Health Net (Senior): (800) 275-4737 (press 6)
MD Care: (888) 285-9676
Secure Horizons: (877) 365-7949