Highmark CEO says new UPMC deal will attract members, but hospitals differ on patient retention post-feud

The CEO of Highmark Health said he thinks a new 10-year agreement with UPMC will draw members to Highmark's insurance products, but affiliate hospitals are seeing mixed results after the landmark deal.

Highmark CEO David Holmberg told Trib Live that since signing the agreement in June, the health system has seen growing interest in people looking to join or return to Highmark and Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance policies for 2020. Still, Highmark reported a 200,000 year-over-year decrease in membership as of June 30. Its overall retention rate fell to 95 percent from 97 percent.

Before the Pittsburgh-based rivals inked a deal in June, many Highmark members said they switched to other plans to avoid coverage lapses. UPMC also saw dips in membership, according to Go Erie. About 4,000 patients switched from Erie, Pa.-based UPMC Hamot to Saint Vincent Hospital in Erie, part of Highmark's Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Health Network.

However, both systems differ on how the resolution affected patient retention. UPMC Hamot President David Gibbons, RN, told Go Erie his hospital "saw a tremendous volume of patients scheduling appointments to return" after UPMC and Highmark announced their agreement. For its part, Saint Vincent chairman Mark Leone, DO, told the publication patients haven't switched back to UPMC physicians "in any meaningful way."

Read more about the agreement here

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