Premera Blue Cross, one of the major health insurers in Alaska, has received termination notices from three Providence Alaska groups of doctors ending their relationship with the insurer at the end of the year:
- – Providence Medical Group Alaska
- – Providence Behavioral Medicine Group
- – Providence Imaging Center
The Providence hospital is not part of the dispute, but the segments of service providers for primary care are essentially calling for a divorce, which could impact thousands of Alaskans. The details of the dispute are not clear, but the move is a signal that the doctors either want to be paid more or that Premera is trying to pay them less.
“We are working in good faith to reach a new agreement that provides quality care for our members and fairly compensates the health system before the contract end date of December 31, 2023,” the health insurer wrote to its customers.
The doctors have issued no statement, but by law the insurer had to notify individual policyholders.
“We understand the unprecedented economic climate, and we want to do our part to help,” Premera Blue Cross wrote in a memo. But it underscored the significant rate increases, and it pointed out that rates are untethered to improvements in quality or access to care, and “work against our objective of making healthcare work better. It’s important to note that 80 cents of every premium dollar that Premera receives must be spent on our members’ care as mandated by state law. That’s why our focus has been—and continues to be—quickly reaching a new contract that benefits these Providence Alaska groups and our members.”
The Premera memo continued, “We value the care our partners at Providence Alaska provide for our region. That’s why as we continue to work with them, we are committed to working long term on realistic, practical solutions that drive down costs. Our role is to be good stewards of your clients’ dollars; while also helping set them up for long-term financial success.”
The health insurer was contractually required to notify impacted members by Nov. 30, which it did, saying, “We will keep you informed as negotiations continue so you are aware of our progress. You can also check out our Healthsource blog for the latest information or contact your Premera representative.”
Earlier, a similar termination had been resolved with Providence health care providers in Eastern Washington and nearly the exact same memo was issued by Premier before that dispute was resolved. Premera and Providence Ambulatory Surgery Centers in eastern Washington came to an agreement on a contract, providing no disruption to Premera patients receiving care at Providence Ambulatory Surgery Centers in eastern Washington, as the contract is effective beginning Jan. 1, 2024.