In August 2017, UNC Healthcare and Carolinas HealthCare Systems announced a plan to form a new consolidated organization. Was that a promising idea? That’s a question Mike Beck tried to answer in his blog about the merger announcement.
However, ever since the announcement, the debate continues to take place throughout the healthcare industry and BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) is the latest to weigh in and has voiced their concern. BCBSNC CEO Patrick Conway stated that BCBSNC cannot support the merger due to concerns of rising healthcare costs for their consumers that often results after such a consolidation. While BCBSNC is open to continued discussions between the two organizations about healthcare cost and quality, their immediate response involves concern.
Currently both UNC Healthcare and Carolinas HealthCare are considered in-network within many of the BCBSNC plans/networks. Therefore, employers and members will want to watch these developments over the years to come monitoring a change to network status, future discounts, and network negotiations.
In the short-term, further discussion on pricing transparency is important not just in this specific consolidation example, but in all aspects of healthcare. While this high-profile example helps shine a spotlight on industry concerns, employers need to have ongoing conversations and education sessions with their employees covering the cost and quality of healthcare.
For more information on how your employee benefit plan can educate employees on pricing transparency please reach out to HCW.