Hospital, Regence still in constant negotiations
With the September 7 contract deadline looming, Castleview Hospital and Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah are engaged in almost constant negotiations to extend their coverage agreement. A compromise between the hospital and insurance provider would ensure that the customers covered by Regence will retain "in-network" services at Castleview, Carbon and Emery counties' only hospital.
"Since the latter part of August, extensive negotiations have taken place and continues to take place between Regence and Lifepoint (the parent company of Castleview)," said Strategic Spokesperson for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah Lou Riepl. "Representatives have met face to face on several occasions, and have negotiated via phone, and email as well."
According to Riepl, the negotiations are very active, with both sides working hard toward a resolution.
"We are in this for the members," continued Riepl via telephone on Friday. "We are trying to convince the hospital's owners to come onto an even plain, in terms of cost, with every other hospital in the state of Utah."
Castleview Chief Executive Officer Mark Holyoak expressed his own desire to see the issue resolved as soon as possible over the phone on Friday.
Since the Carbon Hospital closed its doors in 1979, Castleview has remained the only critical care medical facility in Castle Country.
Holyoak, who has worked for parent company Lifepoint Hospitals for more than 15 years, took over Castleview more than three years ago.
"At Castleview Hospital we are committed to providing comprehensive, quality healthcare to serve the needs of our community," he said. "We believe that our community deserves to have access to affordable, quality care close to home."
Holyoak continued to explain that the current "good faith negotiations" going on between the hospital and Regence are based on a desire to retain "in network" services for patients covered by BlueCross BlueShield of Utah.
"We want everyone to have easy access to the care they need right here in our local community, rather than outside the community," he continued. "As a contracted provider for Regence, we have enjoyed a long-standing relationship for many years. We are hopeful that we will reach a swift resolution to this matter."
Regardless of the contract's fate, Castleview would continue to accept Regence as a provider. However, should the contract negotiations not come together, the patients would be forced to pay "out of network" or "non-preferred" rates, which were described as significantly higher by a letter sent to nearly 800 Carbon County residents recently.
Starting around August 18, the form letter went out, explaining that the insurance provider and Castleview were still negotiating contract terms with less than a month left in the life of the agreement. The following points were explained through the letter in case an agreement could not be reached:
The nearest hospital which would provide "in network" benefits would be the Uintah Basin Medical Center in Roosevelt or Mountain View Hospital in Payson.
Emergency room care would be paid for by the patient at Castleview, with any forthcoming coverage being paid directly to the patient by Regence.
The out of pocket expense could be substantial, when compared to "in network" prices, depending upon the scope of services received.
Those receiving ongoing care at Castleview for conditions such as pregnancy or cancer should contact Regence for assistance with changes in their coverage.