Hospital offers discount after Southeast Missouri State University changes health plan

Friday, November 12, 2010
Southeast Missouri State University's Academic Hall. (Fred Lynch)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to a source error, Saint Francis was described as a Level II trauma center. The hospital is actually a Level III center.

Saint Francis Medical Center will offer a special payment option for Southeast Missouri State University employees who choose to be treated at the hospital.

Under a new insurance plan approved by the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents last month, Saint Francis is now an out-of-network provider, which means Southeast's 1,100 faculty and staff members and their families would have to pay more out of pocket to receive care there.

Saint Francis has received many inquiries from university employees who want to know what they need to do if they want to continue to come to the facility.

"Saint Francis Medical Center looks forward to continuing to provide quality care to Southeast Missouri State University employees or any other employees covered by United Healthcare plans," said Tony A. Balsano, vice president of finance. "We want to reassure patients of access to Saint Francis without any out-of-network financial penalties, if they satisfy the requirements of the prompt pay discount."

The discount agreement is offered to patients who agree to pay copays and deductible amounts within 45 days of getting their hospital bills.

The prompt pay discount reduces the patient's copay and deductible to amounts comparable to what they would pay at an in-network hospital, Balsano said. It's available for all insurance plans that consider Saint Francis out-of-network, including United Healthcare, which Southeast Regents awarded the university's 2011 medical insurance package, a move that will save about $1.1 million. Their previous insurance provider, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, included both Southeast Hospital and Saint Francis Medical Center as in-network providers.

Under federal health care reform legislation passed earlier this year, policies issued by insurance companies after March 2010 must cover emergency services at an in-network provider rate regardless of whether the service is provided by an in- or out-of-network facility. There are some exceptions, depending on when individual plan years start.

Saint Francis' Gene E. Huckstep Emergency and Trauma Center is the region's only state-designated Level III trauma center, caring for the most serious injuries occurring between St. Louis and Memphis. It is required by law to treat anyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

Health care reform measures also prohibit insurance companies from requiring preapproval of emergency services.

United Healthcare did not respond to requests for comment.

For more information about eligibility for the discount program, call 331-5182.

mmiller@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent address:

211 Saint Francis Drive, Cape Girardeau, M-

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