Insurer cooperation

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I have UPMC insurance through my employer and have been very satisfied with the plan and the medical care. But my letter is not about my care; rather it concerns the ongoing public dispute between Highmark and UPMC. The fight has become nasty and very public. This does not serve the best interests of UPMC, Highmark or, more important, the people of Western Pennsylvania who have supported both organizations.

Consider UPMC’s slogan, “Choose your health care as if your life depended on it.” Is there really a choice of plans? Several years ago my employer (200 employees) had the choice of Highmark and UPMC. Then one June, we were told only UPMC plans would be offered because the rate charged by UPMC would be lower if it was the exclusive provider. While this was acceptable to me because UPMC insurance worked well for me, in reality my colleagues and I lost choice.

Now my wife works for a medium-size company (200-plus employees). The company has offices in Allegheny County, but the majority of its branches, the corporate offices and the homes of the employees are outside of Allegheny County and UPMC insurance is not a viable option for her employer. So she cannot choose her health insurance. The majority of her doctors are UPMC physicians. So how can she choose her health care as if her life depends on it?

As long as UPMC and Highmark continue to fight and deny the people of Western Pennsylvania real choice in health care the more UPMC denies us the medical services we need. 

There must be a way for both insurance companies to accept each other’s members as in-network clients. UPMC owes it to the people of Western Pennsylvania. Neither insurer should be able to have a monopoly. I know there is pending legislation in Harrisburg to force cooperation. It would be a shame if the resolution came by force of law rather than cooperation.



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