Seattle hospital says it may not accept insurer

AP News
Posted: Nov 19, 2009 5:29 PM

Seattle's Swedish Medical Center says it might stop accepting Regence BlueShield _ the region's biggest health insurer _ as a provider because its reimbursement rates are too low.

Regence said in a news release Thursday that Swedish wants a 32 percent rate increase over a three-year contract. Regence says its members can't afford the higher premiums that would result.

Swedish insists it has not yet made any decision to stop accepting Regence, but the insurer's reimbursement levels are well below industry standards, and it hopes the sides can agree on new rates.

Swedish also says Regence owes it more than $20 million in underpayments, mostly for intravenous infusion of chemotherapy. The parties are fighting over that in King County Superior Court.

If the hospital does stop accepting Regence, it said it would give patients 120 days notice.

Regence, a nonprofit, serves more than 1 million members in Washington. Swedish, also nonprofit, is the largest hospital in Seattle.