RI's Latest Health Care Merger: Good for You and Your Bottom Line?

May 21, 2013

The Lifespan hospital system’s recent acquisition of Gateway, a mental health care network, may be a sign of more to come. But it could be too soon to tell what it means for a patient’s pocketbook.

Across the country, big hospitals are gobbling up smaller hospitals. Health care networks are hitching their wagons to other networks. Consolidation, it seems, is how health care moves these days. But what happens to insurance premiums when your health care provider becomes part of a bigger network?

“In some areas of the country, that has raised prices, in some areas of the country it has actually lowered prices," said Dr. Gus Manocchia, chief medical officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island.

BCBSRI chief medical officer Dr. Gus Manocchia says it's too soon to tell how a Lifespan/Gateway merger will affect premiums.
Credit Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island

“So, it depends on the situation, depends on the hospital, depends on the group of providers, it depends on the contracts they have with payers.”

Manocchia says it is too soon to tell how the Lifespan/Gateway merger would affect insurance premiums. But he says integrating primary care and behavioral health care should help patients. That concept is gaining acceptance among insurers and doctors alike. Several primary care physician groups in Rhode Island have behavioral health specialists on staff.