Sutter Health Reaches Contract Agreement with Blue Shield
The not-for-profit Sutter Health network announced today that it reached agreement on a new two-year contract with Blue Shield of California, preserving patient access to the doctors and care centers that Blue Shield sold to patients during fall open enrollment. The contract applies to all Blue Shield products in which Sutter Health providers historically participated, including HMO, PPO and those offered through Covered California. There will be no lapse in coverage for Sutter Health patients.
“We sincerely regret the frustration our patients experienced as the negotiations took longer than necessary—especially when the final agreement is extremely close to the reasonable offer we made to Blue Shield several months ago,” said Sutter Health Chief Medical Officer Steve Lockhart, M.D., Ph.D.
“We take seriously our role in helping control rising health care costs, and the contract we reached with Blue Shield reflects our significant progress.”
Through its work to make high-quality services more affordable to patients, Sutter Health has reduced costs more than $300 million in the past few years.
“We’re very pleased to reach a fair and reasonable agreement that preserves patient access to our award-winning doctors and hospitals that Blue Shield promised its members during fall open enrollment—and also safeguards our ability to continue meeting patient and community commitments,” Lockhart said.
As a not-for-profit organization, Sutter Health does not have shareholders. Any revenue earned goes right back into patient care and community health care services. Its hospitals care for more Medi-Cal patients in Northern California than any other health care system. To provide care to Medi-Cal patients in 2013, Sutter Health invested $522 million more than the state paid.
The contract agreement continues to call for arbitration of all disputes, leaving language unchanged that has been in place between Sutter Health and Blue Shield for many years. Arbitration is standard practice in the health care and insurance industries and considerably less costly to consumers who ultimately bear the expense of disputes taken to court.
Blue Shield patients who need more information can visit www.sutterhealth.org/blueshield or call Sutter Health’s toll-free patient support line at 1-866-961-8529.