Another central Pa. hospital system and health insurer decide to pair up

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Capital Blue Cross and WellSpan Health on Wednesday announced a partnership they said will provide new coverage options and ways to save on health care costs.

Dauphin County-based Capital is a leading provider of health insurance in the central and eastern Pennsylvania. WellSpan is based in York and the parent of hospitals including York, Good Samaritan, Gettysburg and Ephrata hospitals, and Phillhaven.

The pairing marks a continuation of the tread of health insurers teaming up with hospital systems. Other major examples in central Pennsylvania include UPMC Pinnacle, which has its own health insurance company, and a collaboration between Highmark and Penn State Health that has included Highmark contributing millions to Penn State Health facilities.

The pairing announced Wednesday would would seem to give WellSpan those kinds of advantages.

Capital and WellSpan said they have agreed to a “long-term” relationship which would be finalized over the next few months.

They said they expect the partnership will result in things including new health insurance products to market to employers and tools to help people navigate their health care.

It will enable them to combine WellSpan’s medical records system, including the many doctors’ offices owned by WellSpan, with

Capital’s data systems for tracking and managing members’ medical care.

When health insurers and health systems team up, it gives them the ability to offer lower costs, resulting from the ability to more cost-effectively manage health care, and to steer more patients into the health system.

For Capital, it also would ensure it always has a robust system of doctors and hospitals for its members — even if other health care systems would begin to favor people covered by an affiliated insurer.

Still, insurers and health systems that have teamed up in central Pa. have so far pledged to take everyone, regardless of their insurer.

But that hasn’t been the case in Pittsburgh, where a rift between UMPC and Highmark has resulted in UPMC excluding most people covered by Highmark from its network.

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