Aetna, Barnabas reach deal, averting health care coverage disruption

Beth Fitzgerald//February 26, 2015//

Aetna, Barnabas reach deal, averting health care coverage disruption

Beth Fitzgerald//February 26, 2015//

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The health insurer Aetna and Barnabas Health, New Jersey’s largest health care provider, announced Thursday they have reached a new, two-year contract, effective March 1, thus averting any disruption for Aetna members who use the Barnabas system.Earlier this month, as negotiations came down to the wire, Aetna started notifying New Jersey customers that they would need to find new health care providers if the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement before the current contract expired March 1.

Aetna said about 18,000 of its New Jersey members receive health care from Barnabas.  Thursday’s announcement said Aetna members who use Barnabas Health hospitals and facilities, or receive care from physicians of the Barnabas Health Medical Group, will continue to be covered at the in-network level of benefits.

“This agreement means that Aetna members will continue to have uninterrupted access to care at all previously participating Barnabas Health facilities and physicians,” said Michael Costa, Aetna vice president, New Jersey Network. “We look forward to continuing to work with Barnabas Health and building on our solid relationship and shared goals of excellent quality and affordable health care.”

RELATED: Aetna begins telling customers it may no longer be in network at Barnabas

 “Barnabas Health and Aetna are very pleased to have reached an agreement to extend our contract, avoiding any disruption to the care of our patients who are insured by Aetna,” stated John Doll, senior vice president of finance, Barnabas Health. “Barnabas Health is committed to providing the highest quality care to our patients and, by continuing and strengthening our relationship with Aetna, we look forward to offering the finest care to all Aetna subscribers, as we always have done.”

The only Barnabas hospital that is not part of this new Aetna deal is Jersey City Medical Center, which Barnabas acquired June 1, 2014. Barnabas spokeswoman Ellen Greene said Jersey City Medical Center is expected to become part of the Aetna network in June 2015.

It’s not unusual for contract talks between hospitals and insurers to hit a snag. New Jersey’s largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, announced earlier this month that Christ Hospital in Jersey City, part of CarePoint Health, had terminated its relationship with Horizon and would exit the insurer’s network June 1. However, top executives of Christ and Horizon said they hoped to reach a deal before the current contract expires May 31.

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CarePoint spokesman Jarrod Bernstein said Thursday that “we are hopeful we are able to come to a resolution before the deadline.” He said CarePoint’s two other Hudson County hospitals, Bayonne Medical Center and Hoboken University Medical Center, will remain in-network with Horizon “regardless of the outcome of the negotiations” between Christ Hospital and Horizon.

The new agreement with Barnabas applies to all Aetna health plan products, including Student Health and Medicare. Hospitals covered by the agreement are:

  • Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston;
  • Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark;
  • Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville;
  • Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch;
  • Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus (formerly Kimball) in Lakewood;
  • Community Medical Center in Toms River; and
  • Barnabas Health Behavioral Health Center, Toms River.

The agreement also includes outpatient services at Barnabas Health facilities including the Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston, statewide services of Barnabas Health Behavioral Health Network and hospice, home care and infusion services.


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