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Anthem Blue Cross, California hospitals to form joint venture

Health insurer Anthem Blue Cross and seven California hospital groups plan to enter into a joint venture with the goal of providing high-quality, coordinated and efficient care throughout the state, according to a report from The New York Times.

The insurer and health systems are expected to announce the groundbreaking partnership today, according to the report. The joint venture will involve the formation of a new provider network and health plan called Anthem Blue Cross Vivity, which will be available to large employers starting in 2015. Anthem will offer coverage for patients who use providers in the new network at a cost that could be 10 percent lower than what employers currently pay. The new plan will resemble an HMO in that participating employees will pay premiums but won't have deductibles and will have "modest" copays, according to the report.

Joseph Swedish, president and CEO of WellPoint (Anthem's parent company, which plans to rebrand as Anthem by the end of this year), told the Times the joint venture was prompted by employer demands that insurers and providers collaborate to improve care.

The partnership is unique in that it includes competing hospitals and health systems that aren't owned by the health plan, according to the report. The providers will also continue to contract with other insurers, while Anthem will still offer other health plans. Participating hospitals and health systems include UCLA Health System, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Good Samaritan Hospital — all based in Los Angeles. Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, Fountain Valley-based MemorialCare Health System, PIH Health in Whittier and Torrance (Calif.) Memorial Health will also be part of Anthem Blue Cross Vivity.


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