published Saturday, August 10th, 2013

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Parkridge Health System spar over contract

The BlueCross BlueShield logo is visible on the side of their old building.
The BlueCross BlueShield logo is visible on the side of their old building.
Photo by Staff File Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
BlueCross BlueShield letter to Parkridge
BlueCross BlueShield letter to Parkridge

FACILITIES AFFECTED

• Chattanooga Surgery Center

• Parkridge Medical Center

•Parkridge East Hospital (East Ridge)

After announcing partnerships with Chattanooga's two largest hospitals, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has dropped key Parkridge Health System facilities from its "S" network.

Parkridge Medical Center, Parkridge East Hospital and Chattanooga Surgery Center -- which is affiliated with Parkridge -- will be dropped from the BlueCross network as of Oct. 1. Parkridge Valley facilities will not be affected.

Parkridge is still in BlueCross' Network P. Of the two networks, Network P is much larger and covers more doctors and hospitals, but is more expensive.

The insurance company's spokeswoman said that BlueCross and Parkridge's parent company, Hospital Corporation of America, have known about the potential change for a while, given the recent partnerships BlueCrosss has made with Chattanooga's other two hospital systems, Erlanger Health System and Memorial Health Care System.

"We work hard to keep S strong, but affordable, so our members have access to the care they need while we keep their costs down. This change to Network S helps us keep coverage affordable," said BlueCross spokeswoman Mary Danielson.

On Friday, Parkridge released a statement saying, "We are proud of our employees and the physicians who deliver services at our facilities, and regret that BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has taken this action. These facilities do participate with other networks and with most of the major insurance plans."

The change only affects the Parkridge Health System in Chattanooga. HCA hospitals are not in Network S in any of the other markets in the state.

Danielson also noted that HCA-affiliated physicians are not a part of this contract negotiation.

"BlueCross members can continue to see these physicians as before," she said.

In a letter sent to members, BlueCross said that the plan allows members to "choose any provider for care, but you will get the most value from your benefits by using providers in Network S."

Contact staff writer Kate Harrison at kharrison@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6673.

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