Westinghouse drops Highmark health plan
Westinghouse Electric Co. will drop Highmark Health Services as an insurer for its employee health plans starting Jan. 1, a year before the insurer loses in-network access to most UPMC hospitals and doctors.
The Cranberry-based nuclear company switched its Highmark plan to Aetna Inc., which will continue to offer full in-network access at UPMC after next year. It had offered an Aetna option alongside Highmark.
“It was driven almost exclusively by our desire to get everything under one umbrella,” Westinghouse spokesman Vaughn Gilbert said of the decision to drop Highmark.
Westinghouse's move affects 7,500 U.S.-based employees. The company employs about 5,000 workers in Western Pennsylvania.
Westinghouse is the first large company to drop Highmark. The city of Pittsburgh recently announced that it would offer HealthAmerica as an alternative to Highmark for next year.
Highmark spokesman Aaron Billger said the insurer, which is Pennsylvania's largest, is in strong competition with national for-profit insurers like Aetna for companies with employees across the country such as Westinghouse. But, he said, “In Highmark's national accounts area, we were on-target and exceeding targets in enrollment throughout our competitive bidding with customers.”
Highmark is trying to hold onto insurance membership in Western Pennsylvania before the Dec. 31, 2014, expiration of reimbursement contracts with UPMC. Without those contracts, Highmark members will pay costly out-of-network charges to access UPMC hospitals and doctors.
Aetna and three other insurers — Cigna Corp., United Healthcare and HealthAmerica, which was acquired by Aetna earlier this year — signed new contracts with UPMC in 2011 giving them full in-network access, a position that only Highmark had previously enjoyed.
“We've been growing our membership in Western Pennsylvania and more companies are recognizing the value we can provide,” said Brian McGarry, Aetna's head of national accounts business in the state.
UPMC has been running television commercials that seek to convince Highmark members that they can switch insurers to keep in-network access to its hospitals and doctors.
Downtown health care consultant James McTiernan, of Triad Gallagher, said he would not read too much into the move by Westinghouse.
“This stuff happens every year,” he said of national companies switching insurers. “Big ones come and go every year.”
Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or email@example.com.
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.
- 8 Western Pennsylvania hospitals penalized over infections
- Beacons track shoppers’ smartphones amid retailers’ aisles
- Nonprofit hospitals in Western Pa. feel pain in finances despite Affordable Care Act
- Hospital finances still crying ‘ouch’
- Online price battle heats up with intraday price fluctuations
- FedEx to buy product-return firm Genco in e-commerce push
- Stock market makes biggest gain in 3 years
- Ford expands air bag recall across U.S.
- Consol Energy moves ahead with plan to spin off coal operations
- Consol researcher Reichl pioneered uses for coal
- Oil price plunge sends global stocks tumbling