Medical services offered at 2 Central Minnesota clinics will remain in-network for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota-insured sufferers after a separate agreements were reached between the insurance provider and a third-party insurance contract negotiator.
In an agreement reached on the day of Monday, Duluth-based Integrity Health Network has agreed to separate agreements of BCBS for 20 affiliated clinics, involving Sartell Pediatrics and Dr. Christopher Wenner’s practice in Cold Spring.
Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) had terminated its multi-clinic arrangement with IHN in August. Without this agreement, those clinics wouldn’t have been in-network for BCBS-insured sufferers starting on the day of Feb. 1.
“We had to concede our position,” stated Jeffrey Tucker, IHN president. “Rather than negotiating one overarching contract for all of our clinics, we’ve to negotiate individual contracts (between Blue Cross and Blue Shield) and each of our clinics.”
IHN is an agency that, in part, negotiates insurance contracts on behalf of independent physician practices significantly across northern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. IHN works with over 200 physicians in 47 independent clinics and facilities in 23 communities.
Through the IHN network, independent clinics are capable to collectively bargain for more competitive charges for health insurance provider contracts. This permits IHN-affiliated clinics to devote more time to patient care and spend less time working with huge insurance providers.
In a statement, Blue Cross Blue Shield Vice President of Provider Relations Eric Hoag claimed that he is happy that separate agreements have been made to work with each individual IHN-affiliated clinic. Hoag stated this will permit BCBS to address clinic requirements on an individual basis.
“I need to thank the leadership of Integrity Health Network for their assistance in coordinating the transition to this latest model,” Hoag said. “Finally, we all share the similar aims of ensuring that patients get the highest quality health care at the highest value.”
IHN also works closely with other huge health insurance providers in Minnesota, involving HealthPartners, Medica, PreferredOne and UCare. Tucker said none of these providers had reflected any interest in pursuing an individual clinic relationship with IHN affiliates.
“The level of support we’ve got from other providers shows they analyze the value of our network,” he stated.
Tucker and the staff at IHN will work closely with BCBS and each clinic to help in forming contracts. BCBS has provided IHN a 30-day window to finalize all twenty individual clinic separate agreements.
“Internally we’ve set a goal to restore relationships with (Blue Cross Blue Shield),” Tucker said. “It isn’t in anyone’s best interest to dwell on what happened. For us, it is onward and upward.”
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