St. Luke’s is getting into the health insurance business. Could it be monopolistic?

St. Luke’s Health System, the largest health system in Idaho, is launching its own health insurance plan.

A nonprofit supporter, she called Health Policy of St. Luke, will bring new ways to help people living in the West Central and South Central areas of the state. Registration begins in mid-October and plans go live in January.

Although the new policies will not change who can receive treatment at the St. Luke, the move will put the company in charge of both the delivery and payment of many of its health services.

So you may wonder: Is St. Can Luke use his health insurance plan to refer patients to their hospitals and clinics? And have an unfair advantage over other providers as a result?

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Boise’s St. Luke’s Health System. The health plan will soon offer health insurance plans to Idahoans in 20 counties across the state. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

When St. Luke’s announced its decision to enter the health insurance business in August, we asked Idaho Department of Insurance Director Dean Cameron what he thinks. He said yes, Health Plan of St. Luke can refer patients to health care providers. But he said he is not worried.

“We believe we have safeguards in place to ensure that there is no abuse of power or abuse of power,” Cameron told the Statesman by phone. “They should have sent us a written statement that consumers would be well taken care of if they went online.”

The spokesman for the great competition of St. Luke, Saint Alphonsus Health System in Boise, declined to comment.

Cameron said Idaho has an opportunity eight carriers providing health insurance plans, including Blue Cross of Idaho Health Services Inc., Molina Healthcare of Idaho, Mountain Health Co-Op, PacificSource Health Plans, Regence BlueShield of Idaho Inc., SelectHealth Inc. and UnitedHealthcare.

In addition, state health insurance carriers are already working with providers to create competitive contracts.

“Some communities have the option of having one health plan or two health plans,” Cameron said. “Our insurance carriers work with all kinds of providers to create the most competitive contracts, and we want to do that, because that gives us as consumers a lower cost.”

He said St. Luke has agreed that it will pay all insurers the same amount for each medical treatment, although there is no legal requirement to do so.

Cameron said health systems have been transparent and consistent throughout the process, but will be looking to ensure market and trade standards are met.

He said: “They want us to follow closely.” “So I would be surprised if they tried to change that.”

The health association, which has hospitals and clinics around the state, issued a notice of intent to provide health insurance in March with the state insurance department. Primary locations include Ada, Adams, Blaine, Boise, Camas, Canyon, Cassia, Custer, Elmore, Gem, Gooding, Jerome Lemhi, Lincoln, Minidoka, Owyhee, Payette, Twin Falls, Valley and Washington.

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St. Luke’s Health Plan says its benefits will be based on the principle of job creation. Enrollment in the plans will begin in mid-October. Health Policy of St. Luke

Matt Wolff, president of the company’s health policy, believes that the integration of health services and insurance will make the already difficult process more stable.

“St. Luke’s Health System will unify service delivery and funding, creating a simpler and more affordable health insurance option for our communities,” Wolff said in a news release.

Hospitals and clinics of St. Luke will continue to receive information other health insurance plansaccording to the release.

Angela Palermo covers business and public health for the Idaho Statesman. He grew up in Hagerman and graduated from the University of Idaho, where he studied journalism and business. Angela previously interned for the Lewiston Tribune and the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.
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