Blue Cross Blue Shield Arizona in-network coverage at Dignity Health-YRMC, medical group extended through Feb. 6 as negotiations continue

Yavapai Regional Medical Center, West Campus, at dusk. (Courier, file)

Yavapai Regional Medical Center, West Campus, at dusk. (Courier, file)

The Dignity Health-Yavapai Regional Medical Center and Blue Cross Blue Shield Arizona leadership are continuing negotiations to reach a contract for in-network insurance coverage and, while those conversation continue, in-network coverage for their customers and patients has been extended through Monday, Feb. 6.

“We appreciate our long-standing partnership, and we want that partnership to continue,” stated a news release from Blue Cross Blue Shield Arizona just before 1 a.m. Friday. “We consider standing up for affordability one of the most important things we do. The impact of increasing the cost of care will be felt by members, in the form of increased premiums and out-of-pocket costs. We all need to make sure that unnecessary increases above medical inflation be kept in check.

“As we continue to work on an agreement with (YRMC) our priority and focus is on our members and doing whatever is necessary to get them the care they need.”

Dignity Health-YRMC and Blue Cross and Blue Shield Arizona have been in negotiations related to this contract since September. They reached an impasse at the end of January, but public pressure has prompted leaders from both sides to continue negotiations with hopes of finding a resolution to concerns about payment reimbursement for medical services.

Dignity Health-YRMC defended its request for a single-digit increase as necessary to remain competitive and provide state-of-the-art services to its patients in a time of rising costs in the medical field. Blue Cross Blue Shield Arizona leaders have argued the increase was exorbitant and unfair given YRMC is the only hospital in the Prescott market with fees that are already far higher than at medical facilities in Phoenix.

The impact of the expired contract has left some Blue Cross Blue Shield Arizona customers, particularly those who use the insurance carrier for a Medicare supplement or who purchased the insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act plan, pondering their continued coverage.

The Daily Courier this week reviewed a letter Blue Cross Blue Shield Arizona officials delivered to some of those patients that appears to suggest those will continue through their expiration date in December 2023. Some patients, though, say they have received mixed information from Dignity Health about how those insurance benefits will work. Official word from the insurance carrier has not yet been provided.

Though the contract appears to impact those enrolled in primary coverage plans, and there are multiple plans through various employers, including those who work for the state of Arizona and at area colleges and universities, Blue Cross Blue Shield Arizona officials have stated that questions about coverage be forwarded to their care managers.

National, state and area lawmakers have all sent letters to agency officials asking them to arrange a settlement because of the broad impact on thousands of Yavapai County residents who, without the ability to use their in-network coverage, would have far reduced access to routine and specialty medical care.

Dignity Health-YRMC leaders said this extension that includes all hospital and medical group facilities is an effort to “ensure a fair and responsible contract” can be negotiated without disrupting patient care.

“We want to make clear our commitment to our patients in Yavapai County,” said an after midnight news release from Dignity Health-YRMC. “We continue to work around the clock to reach an agreement that will enable us to put patients first and continue providing essential medical services to the community.

“We greatly appreciate the public’s patience as we work through these negotiations.”

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