Highmark beefs up for UPMC battle
With the final piece of its new hospital network in place, Highmark is gearing up to take on UPMC, Western Pennsylvania's largest health system.
It shelled out about $1.6 billion to buy seven hospitals, including the just-completed acquisition of St. Vincent Health System in Erie, a number of doctor practices and other components. But is its expansion complete?
Spokesman Aaron Billger would only say that the company, which also owns the state's largest health insurer, will “work with the community to determine health care needs and then develop capabilities to meet those needs.”
Highmark has said it's building the health system, called Allegheny Health Network, to give its insurance customers a lower-cost option to UPMC, the largest hospital network in Western Pennsylvania. In addition to St. Vincent, Highmark has purchased the five-hospital West Penn Allegheny Health System, Jefferson Regional Medical Center and Premier Medical Associates, a large Monroeville physician practice. It also is building a $100 million outpatient center in Pine.
But more important to Highmark's success than buying hospitals and building outpatient clinics is whether it can achieve health-care savings for its insurance members, said James McTiernan, a health-care consultant with Triad Gallagher, a Downtown benefits consulting firm.
UPMC will become out-of-network for members of Highmark's insurance arm, Highmark Health Services, starting in 2015. Without that access, members could drop the insurer. But they could be persuaded to stay if Highmark's insurance is less expensive than competitors with in-network access to UPMC, McTiernan said.
“As a byproduct of success in the insurance business, their health-care delivery (system) will do well because it will be feeding them patients,” he said.
To raise the profile of Allegheny Health Network among the general public, Highmark introduced a new advertising campaign on Tuesday with the tagline, “Today is a new day,” CEO William Winkenwerder said during a news conference in Erie.
“We have a great deal of work ahead of us,” he said. “The long-term benefits to the community are substantial.”
UPMC has said it cannot continue reimbursement contracts with Highmark Health Services beyond the end of 2014 because the insurer intends to steer patients away from UPMC hospitals and doctors.
It has argued in its own advertising campaign that Highmark's plan to steer 40,000 UPMC patients to the Allegheny Health Network would cause it substantial financial harm.
Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Alex Nixon to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Amid struggles, top fiscal executive to leave EDMC
- PPG Industries to buy Westmoreland Supply paint store chain
- Natrona Bottling Co. keeps soda pop operation focused on craft, taste
- Without pipelines, gas can’t get to demand
- Allegheny Technologies reports $700,000 loss in 3Q
- High pollution levels found near Ohio gas wells
- Chevron puts $20M into educating, training Appalachian workers
- Fannie Mae might take 3% down
- Stocks on upswing
- Streaming won’t mean the end of cable
- Plastics, tech sectors crucial to cracker plants