An agreement was struck Monday between Oklahoma's largest private health insurer and Saint Francis Health System, ending a months-long standoff that jeopardized in-network care for thousands of Blue Cross Blue Shield members.
BCBS of Oklahoma and the Tulsa-based nonprofit said the three-year contract prevents a potential lapse of in-network coverage that was scheduled to occur Thursday. Talks broke down April 30, when the deadline to secure a new contract expired.
BCBSOK officials said the parties spent "months of negotiations in good faith" in an attempt to secure a new contract, and Saint Francis executives thought a deal had been struck. But conflicting reports emerged in early May, and BCBSOK members were advised about the end of in-network access at Saint Francis facilities.
The parties broke their silence Monday, announcing a new three-year contract, which allows continued in-network access to services at all Saint Francis hospitals and facilities. BCBSOK plans included in the contract include Blue PreferredSM, Blue Advantage PPOSM, BlueLincs HMO, Blue Choice PPOSM, Blue TraditionalSM and NativeBlueSM networks.
Dr. Joseph R. Cunningham, president of BCBSOK, said the insurer is "pleased to reach a new agreement that allows our members to continue receiving in-network care at Saint Francis.”
“We take our role as stewards of our members’ health care premium dollars very seriously," Cunningham said in a media release. This agreement proves our commitment to members by providing them with access to quality, cost-effective health care, while safeguarding them from future unexpected costs.”
Dr. Cliff Robertson, president and chief executive officer of Saint Francis Health System, said negotiations during the past several months produced an "agreement that provides value for both BCBS’ members and Saint Francis Health System’s patients." He said Saint Francis is committed to "a future where care is comprehensive and costs are affordable."
“The future of health care is changing as are the relationships between hospitals and health plans," Robertson said. "We need to work together to enhance how care is delivered and how patients are served."
BCBSOK and Saint Francis said both parties worked diligently behind the scenes to resolve contractual issues and to prevent a lapse of in-network coverage for thousands of Oklahomans.
BCBSOK members who have questions about in-network providers or benefit coverage are encouraged to call the number on the back of their ID card or visit bcbsok.com/saintfrancis.