Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Group negotiating new contract with Aetna
In-network coverage at hospital or with providers is not canceled

Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Group is currently in contract negotiations with Aetna insurance. The deadline to complete negotiations is March 31.

On Friday afternoon, Aetna spokesman Sarah Erickson said the negotiations are with the entire Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Group. That group includes some 300 doctors and medical practitioners with offices and patients in both Prescott and Prescott Valley.

A Thursday statement emphasized that these negotiations do NOT impact either Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Center (West) or Yavapai Regional Medical Center East. “Dignity Health is a valued partner in our efforts to provide our members in Yavapai County with access to affordable, quality, convenient care that helps them achieve better health,” the Aetna statement reads.

Though the two remain in negotiations, the statement was clear that if no new network agreement is reached, “Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Group will terminate from our network for commercial and Medicare Advantage members if we do not reach an agreement by March 31.”

Still, Aetna has begun sending notifications to patients stating, “Your health care provider is leaving our network.”

Dignity sources affirm that is not true.

At the same time, Aetna stated: “With our ongoing discussions, we are hopeful we will reach a fair agreement that keeps Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Group in our network and serves the needs of our members and customers. Of note, Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Center and Yavapai Regional Medical Center East are not impacted by the current negotiation and remain in the Aetna network.”

Dignity Health Arizona Director of External Communications Carmelle Malkovich on Friday added to an earlier statement, reiterating the Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Group and Medical Center’s commitment to its patients: “We do not underestimate our responsibility as one of the region’s highest-quality health care organizations providing life-saving care today and in the future. Patients are at the center of everything we do, and we recognize the level of concern this situation can create. We always negotiate with our mission in mind, and we know our communities are counting on us. Our priority remains to work with Aetna in good faith toward reaching an agreement before the current contract expires on April 1, 2024.”

If no agreement is made in time, Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Center — west and east — will work to provide services to those affected, sources have said.

Fear of loss of in-network insurance coverage is not new, with some recalling Blue Cross Blue Shield Arizona negotiations last year. The difference is this time Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Center is not part of the negotiations, this time with Aetna, a national insurance agency; the negotiations are between Aetna and the Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Group.

Aetna’s letters state that if negotiations fail, patients can remain with their doctors but will be required to pay out-of-network costs that for some will be considerably more than the in-network rates.

“At this time, nothing has changed,” Dignity’s Thursday statement stated. “While negotiations continue prior to the expiration date, Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Group providers are still in network with Aetna and patients should continue to seek care from the Dignity Health providers they know and trust.”

When this negotiation first became public Feb. 19, the Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Group released a short statement that the network of its providers and medical practitioners affiliated with the group, and who affiliate with the two-campus hospital in Prescott and Prescott Valley, has been negotiating for several months with Aetna “to reach a new, responsible contract agreement that puts patients first and keeps Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Group doctors in-network for Aetna members.”

Malkovich urged patients with questions to call 1-877-729-2669. 

John Burns of Prescott Valley said he and his wife moved here four years ago. A retired, three-decade health care administrator, Burns said he is well aware of these types of negotiations.

As Medicare Advantage plan patients who now receive both primary and specialty care from Prescott doctors, Burns said the notices from Aetna notifying him that their doctors may soon no longer be in that network “feel like a gut shot.”


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