MemorialCare Health System, Anthem Blue Cross split

Fountain Valley, Calif.-based MemorialCare Health System and its five hospitals are operating out of network with Anthem Blue Cross after contract negotiations ended in impasse last week, according to the Long Beach Press Telegram.

The parties' contract expired Aug. 15 and the system's out-of-network status took effect the same day. Patients with procedures or surgeries scheduled after Aug. 15 expressed frustration with the limited amount of notice the health system and insurer provided regarding the change in policy. Some patients were left to reschedule procedures at other facilities.

One woman scheduled to undergo hip replacement surgery at Long Beach Memorial on Aug. 29 simply told the Telegram she "lost it" when she received notification Tuesday of the out-of-network status.

"We have been diligent in our negotiations with Anthem for six months and continue to do all we can to reach a fair and reasonable agreement that will allow us to continue to provide the high levels of quality care and service that you and our community expect and deserve," MemorialCare said in a statement on its website. The system has set up a Q&A page for patients affected by the contract termination.

Details of the negotiations were not disclosed.

Approximately 5,000 Long Beach city employees are enrolled in the Anthem network and were notified of the change Aug. 18, at 5 p.m. Other Anthem customers received letters detailing the breakup this week, noting Anthem Blue Cross physicians who admit patients to MemorialCare facilities have received notification of the change and will refer patients to other facilities in the area.

A spokesperson for St. Mary Medical Center, a Dignity Health hospital in Long Beach, said the facility is preparing for an increase in patients, according to the Telegram.

Patients who are on Medicare, work for Boeing or enrolled in the Anthem-Vivity plan are not affected, a Memorialcare spokesperson said in a statement. Boeing has a Preferred Partnership with MemorialCare and the company insures some employees through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois. 

Editor's note: This article was updated to reflect MemorialCare Health System is headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif. We regret this error.

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