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Dignity Health Takes Contract Spat with Anthem Public

Analysis  |  By John Commins  
   August 02, 2021

The health system is urging its customers to "take action" and "call Anthem at the number on the back of your insurance card and urge them to work with Dignity Health doctors and hospitals on a new agreement."

San Francisco-based Dignity Health has brought its ongoing contract dispute with Anthem Blue Cross before the court of public opinion.

In several posts on its website, Dignity – the largest not-for-profit health system in California – announced that its contract with for-profit Anthem expired in mid-July, and that patient access would be adversely affected as negotiations sputter.

"Anthem has claimed that Dignity Health's rates are exceptionally high in California, but this is simply not true," the health system said in its plea to consumers. "Dignity Health's rates are competitive with other hospitals in our markets. According to the most recent RAND Corporation study reviewing hospital prices nationally, at least eight other health systems in California have health plan rates that are higher than Dignity Health."

"Because of Anthem's unwillingness to negotiate a new, responsible contract, more than 1 million patients lost in-network access to care at most of Dignity Health's California facilities on July 16, 2021."

Describing its fight as a battle with the "nation's largest for-profit insurance company," Dignity noted that Anthem recorded $1.7 billion in profits in Q1, "exceeding even Wall Street analysts' projections. Profits are distributed to shareholders, not reinvested in patient care or expanded access."

"We are doing everything we can to restore our in-network status, including offering Anthem a proposal with rates that do not even cover hospital inflation costs and are below increases included in our prior agreements."

Dignity said the expired contract means that more than 1 million consumers will have limited – if any – access to its venues in more than 30 communities and will be "forced to travel great distances to receive the care – especially specialized care like oncology services, neonatal ICUs, pediatric care, burn centers, accredited stroke centers and more."

The health system is urging its customers to "take action" and "call Anthem at the number on the back of your insurance card and urge them to work with Dignity Health doctors and hospitals on a new agreement."

"If you receive insurance through your employer, for more information, talk to your human resources or benefits department and urge them to contact Anthem," Dignity said. 

“Because of Anthem's unwillingness to negotiate a new, responsible contract, more than 1 million patients lost in-network access to care at most of Dignity Health's California facilities on July 16, 2021.”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Describing its fight as a battle with the "nation's largest for-profit insurance company," Dignity noted that Anthem recorded $1.7 billion in profits in Q1, "exceeding even Wall Street analysts' projections. Profits are distributed to shareholders, not reinvested in patient care or expanded access."

Dignity said the expired contract means that more than 1 million consumers will have limited – if any – access to its venues in more than 30 communities and will be "forced to travel great distances to receive the care – especially specialized care like oncology services, neonatal ICUs, pediatric care, burn centers, accredited stroke centers and more."


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