Before Exchanges Start, HCA Makes New Deals With Insurers

Nashville’s HCA is gearing up for one of the biggest pieces of the Affordable Care Act. The company says it has reached agreements with several insurers that will offer plans on health insurance exchanges, which are supposed to start enrolling customers later this year.

Uninsured individuals will use a form like this to apply for coverage in the new health insurance exchanges. Image/Department of Health and Human Services

Uninsured individuals will use a form like this to apply for coverage in the new health insurance exchanges. Image/Department of Health and Human Services

The federal government will manage exchanges in most states, but they’re meant to be places where the uninsured can find private coverage. The exchanges also decide what’s covered and what’s not, so CEO Richard Bracken says HCA has to work out new deals with insurers. “We have 36 contracts with our major payers and expect to be in active negotiation for additional contracts over the next several months,” Bracken said on a conference call with investors today.

Bracken didn’t say if the contracts cover all of its more than 160 hospitals in 20 states, but he did mention most of the deals are with BlueCross BlueShield organizations. HCA says the amount they’re paid for treating exchange-covered patients will be in line with what they already get from private insurers.

The nation’s largest for-profit hospital company has been reluctant to talk about health reform. Earlier this year, executives expressed doubt the exchanges would be ready to start enrolling patients by an October deadline.

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