Aetna, Banner Health embark on joint health plan

Aetna and Phoenix-based Banner Health will create and jointly own a health plan company offering employer-based insurance in Arizona's Maricopa and Pinal Counties, with eyes toward statewide expansion.

Below are four things to know about the collaboration.

1. The joint venture — called Banner | Aetna — extends the Hartford, Conn.-based payer's ACO relationship with Banner, which was announced in 2011. Tom Grote, president of Aetna's Arizona market, said the Aetna Whole Health-Banner Health Network ACO has saved $9.9 million since inception.

2. Available Jan. 1, the joint health plan will integrate care teams, health insurance and administrative services to streamline policyholders' care and lower premiums. Aetna members covered under Aetna Whole Health Network ACO plans can also transfer to Banner | Health plans. 

3. Banner Health Network's 14 hospitals and more than 900 primary care physicians will network with Aetna. In addition, Aetna's member site will link to Banner's patient portal, allowing policyholders to search plan information, providers, claims, test results and schedule appointments.

4. Banner | Aetna is the payer's third joint venture with a health system in its quest to switch three-fourths of its contracts to value-based agreements by 2020.  

"When payers and providers come together in this kind of genuine collaboration — with a joint approach to serving members and advancing population health — then we have a rare opportunity to reinvent what healthcare will look like tomorrow," Peter Fine, president and CEO of Banner Health, said in a prepared statement. "This joint venture is a bold move in that direction."  

More articles about payer issues:
5 quick facts about tiered marketplace health plans
Top White House economist calls ACA death spiral 'absolutely impossible'
Maine insurance co-op hikes out-of-network deductibles over 400%

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