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Blue Shield and St. Joseph Health System team up to fight rising health care costs

Both parties seek little to no increase in health care costs for 2012.

By Jessica BerriePublished: July 29, 2011 01:23 PM

Blue Shield of California and Orange-based St. Joseph Health System (SJHS) have partnered to battle an anticipated rise in health care costs. According to US News & World Report and Health Affairs, health care spending in America is expected to reach $4.6 trillion by 2020. This is based on a projected increase in out-of-pocket spending. Blue Shield and SJHS hope that their “accountable care” initiative will help provide quality health care to patients, with little to no increase in costs for 2012.

Through this collaboration, the organizations aim to cut costs for 30,000 Blue Shield HMO members in Orange County. With the help of SJHS’s regional hospitals in Orange, Fullerton, Mission Viejo, and Laguna Beach, as well as three affiliated physicians networks and three medical groups, the initiative will last for at least 12 months, starting in January 2012.

“As a faith based organization, we understand the importance of providing perfect care that optimizes clinical quality, patient safety and patient experience, which is why we are collaborating with Blue Shield to deliver medical cost relief to the communities that we serve,” said C.R. Burke, president and CEO of St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare.  “We’re excited about the potential for this collaboration to advance our mission to deliver care that is safe, timely, evidence-based and efficient, while enhancing the patient experience.”

The organizations will work together to develop a health care delivery model that will improve efficiency and quality of health care, without an increase in cost. According to company reps, they will execute long term strategies such as working to share clinical and case management information and regulating health care services. Planning has already begun for the initiative’s launch in 2012 and will be part of a series of collaborations Blue Shield is developing across California.

“St. Joseph Health System has a well-deserved regional and national reputation for clinical excellence and innovation. We look forward to working together to deliver high-quality coordinated care to Blue Shield members in Orange County,” said Juan Davila, Blue Shield’s senior vice president of network management. “This marks the latest milestone in our ongoing effort to transform how we provide and pay for care to make health coverage more affordable to all Californians.”

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