Geisinger, St. Luke's unite to reduce healthcare costs

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Geisinger Health System and St. Luke’s University Health Network have joined forces under Geisinger’s insurance plans in order to reduce healthcare costs.

The new partnership will make St. Luke’s six hospitals and its some-270 medical offices clinical partners of the Geisinger Health Plan, according to an article from Lehigh Valley Live. The plan, according to officials from both systems, is designed to lower premiums because cost savings will remain internal instead of going to outside insurers.

The collaboration will help the organizations improve access to affordable and high-quality care to patients who live in nearly 50 counties in Pennsylvania.

"We're introducing another level of competition in healthcare insurance, in healthcare collaboration, in healthcare cooperation," Richard Anderson, president and CEO of St. Luke's, said during a news conference to report the partnership.

"When you get to the heart of it, we are two organizations focused on taking the best care of patients and we're excited to partner with a healthcare system that aligns with our vision and values," said David T. Feinberg, M.D., president and CEO of Geisinger Health System, in an announcement. "Geisinger is thrilled to expand the scope of our relationship with St. Luke's to advance population health, improve quality and provide better access to care."

The partnership has been in the works for two years but has not yet been approved by Pennsylvania’s Insurance Commissioner Teresa D. Miller, according to the article. But if and when it is, the union will go into effect on Jan. 1. The move, when approved, will have immediate financial benefits to St. Luke’s--the system’s 10,000-plus employees will join Geisinger’s plan, saving the system about $500,000 each year.

Rising insurance premiums are a concern for both consumers and providers, and health insurance has been a hot-button political topic this election cycle. As more insurers exit Affordable Care Act exchanges, patients are left with limited options and may choose a less comprehensive plans to save money on premiums.

Patients in the Lehigh Valley area, which St. Luke’s serves, could already enroll in Geisinger Health Plan, according to the article, but the partnership will allow for a new Medicare Advantage plan sponsored by the two systems and new plans available to regional employers.