Akron Children’s Hospital and Anthem reached a deal late Friday that will continue their “in-network” relationship past Jan. 1.
If a contract had not been reached by the new year, families might have faced higher medical bills.
A news release announcing the agreement said it includes all Anthem commercial health plans effective Jan. 1, 2014.
“We are pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with Anthem so we could remain accessible to all of the Anthem-enrolled patient families who rely on our services and providers,” Karen Richter, vice president of managed care at Akron Children’s Hospital, said in the release. “We’re happy our patient families will still be able to access their trusted physicians and have the peace of mind the continuity of care will provide.”
The new contract includes Children’s hospitals, physician practices, emergency departments, home care and other services.
It also covers the hospital system’s neonatal intensive-care units at Summa Akron City Hospital and Akron General Medical Center and its pediatric units at Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna, Aultman Hospital in Canton and Wooster Community Hospital.
When reached by phone later Friday, Richter said the families of patients were anxious about the contract talks.
“We did receive quite a few phone calls [and] quite a few emails from people who were very, very worried about losing the opportunity to come to Children’s Hospital and see the providers that they established long-term relations with,” she said.
Richter said that to her knowledge the Anthem negotiations came the closest to the deadline for an insurance deal.
“Anthem and Akron Children’s have had a long-term professional relationship, providing our members with ongoing access to the excellent health-care services provided by the hospital and its physicians,” Jim Pugliese, regional vice president of provider engagement and contracting for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio, said in the news release. “This agreement renews our continuing commitment.”
Most insurance plans require consumers to seek services from in-network health-care providers to pay the lowest out-of-pocket charges.
Earlier this month, Richter said issues being reviewed included payment rates, along with other undisclosed terms and conditions of the contract.
During the negotiations, Anthem sent its customers a letter that included a list of other in-network pediatric hospitals throughout the region with affiliated specialists. Among those listed were Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital.