“We did not terminate the contract — it was Ministry who triggered it.”
By Brandi Makuski
Customers of Anthem BlueCross BlueSheild this week are expected to receive word that Ministry Medical plans to sever its relationship with the insurance company.
According to Scott Larrivee, public relations director for Anthem, the hospital notified the insurance company it was seeking to end their contract unless new terms could be reached.
“Ministry notified us back in March that they wanted to end their contract with us by September 30 unless some sort of new agreement could be worked out,” Larrivee said. “Since then, we’ve been working with them to find a new agreement everybody can agree on. We continue to work with them, but we have started to provide initial notices to employers and brokers that they may leave the network if a new agreement isn’t reached. We hope we can.”
Scott said customers are being notified they should schedule their appointments with Ministry before Sept. 30 or find another provider. He said the contract dispute is “limited strictly to Ministry”.
He added those covered by the insurance company — about 7,500 in the region who have used Ministry services in the past 12 months — should begin receiving letters this week.
The insurance company’s current contracted was formalized in October of 2005, Larrivee said, but added, “we’ve been working with them since long before that. So we did not terminate the contract — it was Ministry who triggered it.”
But Ministry says they expect to reach an agreement before the contract expires.
Jeffrey Squire, Vice President of Managed Care for Ascension Health, a partner company of Ministry, said in an email statement that Anthem is required by law to notified customers within 30 days of a contract’s end.
“We expect to reach an agreement with Anthem prior to the end of the contract,” Squire said.
Larrivee said current customers can seek treatment at other local in-network providers such as Aspirus, Marshfield Clinic, ThedaCare and Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS)-affiliated facilities, such as HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls, Wis.
The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) ranks Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin 217th out of more than 500 insurance companies across the nation; in Wisconsin it’s listed as the 18th top health insurance company. Rankings are based on health plans’ quality, customer satisfaction and accreditation results.
*This story is ongoing.