Providence Health & Services and Premera Blue Cross have overcome an earlier impasse that threatened to affect hundreds of thousands of state residents.
Providence Health & Services and Premera Blue Cross have ironed out a new health-insurance contract, averting a disruption that could have affected more than 500,000 people in Washington.
Providence and its partners, Swedish Health Services, Kadlec Health Services and Pacific Medical Centers, known as PacMed, have signed a letter of agreement with Premera, according to a joint statement released Monday.
“A definitive contract will be signed soon, ensuring patients have all of the information they need to make sound decisions during open enrollment,” it said.
After negotiations had failed, Providence officials said in July that they would not renew a contract with Premera. Talks began in 2015, when the two parties reached a compromise agreement for 2016. But discussion of the 2017 contract proved more difficult.
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Colleen Wadden, a Providence spokeswoman, said the nonrenewal threat was real.
“This was not a negotiation tactic,” she wrote in an email. “We did in fact stop negotiating the existing contracts, after a year and a half of talks, and terminated them. We take very seriously that these issues concern patients, which is why we made the decision ahead of open enrollment.”
Open enrollment for insurance plans runs from Nov. 1, 2016, to Jan. 31, 2017.
Neither Providence nor Premera officials would release details of the contract.
The agreement covers Premera’s Heritage Plus plans, the employer-sponsored health plan that is Premera’s largest provider network.
Providence had said that more than 60,000 patients in their system have Premera coverage, but that including providers who use Providence facilities, the impact could top 500,000 people.