University Park, Pa. -- Penn State is continuing to keep employees up-to-date on information related to their health care benefits, following the recent announcement by Highmark that Geisinger Health System and its providers may not be part of the health care network after Dec. 31. Highmark, Penn State’s health care administrator, offered to extend the current agreement with Geisinger for an additional 90 days to minimize the impact on members and allow for additional time to negotiate, but Geisinger unexpectedly declined early last week.
A letter from Penn State is expected to reach employees over the coming days, however, in an effort to expedite the delivery of the information, a website has been created. Faculty and staff can visit http://ohr.psu.edu/benefits/insurance/health/geisinger-and-highmark to read the contents of the letter and see answers to frequently asked questions about the issue. Benefits specialists in Penn State’s Office of Human Resources will post and answer other frequently asked questions as they are posed by employees.
As announced last week, Highmark and Geisinger Health System have not reached an agreement regarding Geisinger’s network status for the PPOBlue. This network is the one used by all Penn State faculty and staff with their Penn State health plan.
If an agreement is not reached by Jan. 1, 2011, and employees wish to continue under the care or services of a Geisinger medical provider in 2011, employees will be responsible for a larger portion of health care expenses. Please see the 2011 Benefit Summary at the above listed Web address for more details regarding out-of-network benefits and costs.
“We encourage employees to contact their Geisinger physician’s office to voice concern about this situation as well as let them know that their participation in Highmark’s PPOBlue network is important to you and your family,” said Al Horvath, senior vice president for finance and business. “We are monitoring this situation closely and are hoping for a speedy and positive resolution.”
These contract negotiations do not just affect Penn State. All Highmark Blue Shield accounts across the state of Pennsylvania are impacted by the potential outcome of the negotiations with Geisinger. Highmark is required by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department to notify members of the potential of a network provider discontinuing its network participation.