Hospitals get help from insurers with improved balance sheets


Hospitals are getting assistance like accelerated payments and loans from insurers who are seeing their balance sheets improve as claim payments for elective services drop, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Brad Ellis, a senior director at Fitch Ratings, told the Journal that insurers are motivated to help keep providers from closing so insurers' large provider networks don't shrink.

Here are three examples of insurers using their financial position to help hospitals: 

1. Blue Shield of California saw claim filings drop 20 percent in March. The insurer is providing up to $200 million in direct financial support to hospitals and physicians facing new pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic. Blue Shield of California CFO Sandra Clarke told the Journal the insurer is also helping fee-based providers switch to fixed monthly payments so their revenue stream is more steady, and is underwriting some patients' financial obligations. 

2. Maryland's CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield is giving $110 million in interest-free loans to hospitals and providers, according to the report. The insurer is also allowing some providers to bill for video or telephone visits and receive accelerated reimbursements.

3. UnitedHealth Group has expedited $2 billion in payments to physicians and hospitals and offered up to $125 million in loans to providers in which it holds a stake. 


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