Monday, September 8, 2014

Seattle Children’s Hospital officially withdraws legal complaint

Seattle Children’s Hospital officially withdrew its legal challenge with the OIC on Sept. 5 after it reached an agreement with Regence Blue Shield to include some services in Regence’s health provider networks for 2014 plans.

Seattle Children’s Hospital initiated legal proceedings about a year ago when Premera, Regence Blue Shield and Coordinated Care decided against including the hospital and research facility in their medical networks because of cost concerns. Seattle Children’s argued the OIC shouldn’t have approved 2014 plans from the three carriers because they excluded the facility from their networks for routine pediatric medical care. The plans argued Seattle Children’s charges for routine pediatric medical care would drive up their costs; Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler sided with the plans in favor of “narrow networks” to be able to provide cost-effective services for consumers. No families who needed specialty pediatric care were turned away from Seattle Children’s or had to pay out of pocket for those services.

Seattle Children’s and Premera Blue Cross last month reached an agreement to include the hospital in its medical networks, effective Sept. 1. Coordinated Care earlier this year made a deal to include the hospital in its network and was removed from the case.  

OIC is in the process of reviewing 2015 plans that are sold outside of the Washington health benefit exchange. At the end of August, OIC approved 90 health plans for sale inside the Exchange, called Washington Healthplanfinder, with a record low 1.9 percent average rate change.