Memorial in negotiations with Anthem

Businesses who offer Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance to their employees met with the Memorial Health System last week to discuss upcoming contract negotiations between the insurance and the health provider.

Scott Cantley, president and chief executive officer of Memorial Health System, sent a letter earlier this month to county employers stating that the health system and Anthem have a managed care contract which is due to rollover for an additional one-year term on Oct. 1.

“It is our desire to work with Anthem to discuss a new rate level going forward, and to do so before the pending roll-over becomes effective,” Cantley said in the letter. “Anthem continues to pay Memorial Health System well below rates being paid by other large managed care plans in our area.”

He states in his letter that if Anthem does not offer market-level reimbursement and the health system is no longer a willing participant in the Anthem network, there are other insurance alternatives to Anthem in Washington County, including Aetna, Cigna and United HealthCare.

Kathy Thieman, Washington County director of human resources, safety and loss control, attended last week’s meeting, as Washington County is contracted with Anthem.

“Basically, Marietta Memorial sent a letter to the county and other employers that have Anthem,” she said. “They were negotiating the contract on Oct. 1 with Anthem and there is a possibility they may not be renewing the contract. The meeting was to give us a heads up. When we come to open enrollment, be prepared to look into other options.”

She said the county has a three-year contract with Anthem and they are locked in until 2021.

“This is just the beginning of negotiations with Anthem,” she said, noting Memorial Health System officials will meet with local brokers to discuss their options.

If Memorial Health Systems drops Anthem, those who have their insurance may have to go out of the county for health care or doctor’s appointments.

Washington County Commissioner Ron Feathers was told of the meeting Thursday morning.

“I think it’s pretty clear. It’s a negotiation process,” he said. “They are looking to capitalize on their profitability and want the insurers to pay more.”

He said during last week;s commission meeting that because of high costs of health care, county employees are sometimes urged to go elsewhere for their medical needs. There is a fund available that will help pay for gas for employees who have to travel.

Messages left for Cantley and his executive assistant, Debbi Beaver, were not returned Monday afternoon.

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

At a glance:

• The Memorial Health System met Thursday with county employers.

• The health system and Anthem have managed care contract.

• Contract is due for one-year rollover on Oct. 1.

• If a contract cannot be negotiated, Anthem will no longer be a network provider.