Regence, PeaceHealth reach contract agreement

Regence BlueShield insurance customers will continue paying in-network prices for care at PeaceHealth Medical Group facilities, including St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham. The groups reached a two-year contract agreement March 11.

“As a healthcare provider in this community for 120 years, it was important for us to work hard to ensure continued access to high quality, compassionate care,” Nancy Steiger, CEO for PeaceHealth St. Joseph, said in a press release. “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Regence BlueShield so that we can continue to offer our community access to quality, cost-effective care, close to home.”

The thousands of Whatcom County residents insured by Regence BlueShield were at risk of paying higher, out-of-network prices if the insurer and health care provider couldn’t reach an agreement by March 31.

The new agreement runs through June 2013 and includes a joint commitment to find areas of collaboration on reducing healthcare costs. Specific details of the contract, including reimbursement rates, are confidential.

“We are pleased to renew our contract with PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center and the PeaceHealth Medical Group,” Beth Johnson, vice president of provider services for Regence BlueShield, said in a press release. “Both parties worked hard to come to an agreement that is equitable, and preserves access for our members to quality, affordable health care in Whatcom County.”

Regence members in Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan counties will be receiving letters notifying them of the contract agreement. In the meantime, they can continue to use PeaceHealth providers and receive coverage at their in-network benefit level.

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