Aetna and Barnabas reach deal to keep in-network coverage intact

The second-largest health insurance company in New Jersey and the state’s largest hospital network are not breaking up, after all.
RWJBarnabas Health and Aetna announced Thursday they renewed their contract for two more years, allowing the carrier’s 1.2 million policy holders to maintain in-network coverage at RWJBarnabas’s 11 hospitals and many outpatient centers, according to a joint statement from the companies.
Last month, Aetna notified 45,000 policy holders who had been treated at one of RWJBarnbas’ facilities in the past year that unless contract negotiations were completed by April 22, these facilities would be outside their network. Patients would have had to pay a lot more to use them or select another hospital.
The ripple effect would have included 1,267 doctors who hold admitting privileges exclusively at RWJBarnabas hospitals, according to Aetna.
Major health insurance carrier, Aetna, and Barnabas Health have signed a new two-year contract that will keep them working together and thousands of patients covered, according to a joint statement today.
“RWJBarnabas Health is very pleased to have reached an agreement with Aetna, avoiding any disruption to the care of our patients who are Aetna participants and subscribers,” said Jay Picerno, chief operating officer for RWJBarnabas Health.
“RWJBarnabas 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 participants and subscribers, as always.”
Aetna has said the contract dispute was over “a significant rate increase we do not believe can be supported in the market. We continue to hope we can find a place where we can agree.”
As a result of this agreement, there will be no disruption in coverage, said Michael Costa, Aetna’s Executive Director for New Jersey.
“This is exciting news for our members,” Costa said. “Our relationship with RWJBarnabas continues to thrive and we are excited to continue to work with them to transform health care for our customers and members in New Jersey.”
Aetna and Barnabas Health reached an impasse over contract negotiations two years ago, resulting in 18,000 Aetna policy holders receiving a letter warning of the possible termination. But the two sides inked a deal three days before the contract expired.
Since then, Barnabas Health completed a merger with the Robert Wood Johnson Health System last year.
Their joint holdings include Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville; Community Medical Center in Toms River; Jersey City Medical Center; Monmouth Medical Centers in Long Branch and Lakewood; Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark; Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston; Robert Wood Johnson’s former hospitals in Somerville, Hamilton, Rahway and New Brunswick; and The Cancer Institute of New Jersey at Rutgers University.

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