Affordable Care Act creating new competition among Nacogdoches' hospitals

Affordable Care Act creating new competition among Nacogdoches' hospitals
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The Affordable Care Act is revealing something new.

Consumers are indeed signing up.

Also, more hospitals are going after the business of the newly insured individuals.

East Texas News looked into how the ACA is creating an additional level of competition for the hospitals in Nacogdoches.

A swift business move by Tenet Health Care is positioning the for-profit Nacogdoches Medical Center to serve individuals insured through the Affordable Care Act.

A deal was sealed with Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

Medical Center became the only hospital in Nacogdoches allowed to accept the less expensive, but more restrictive Blue Cross' HMO plans.

Medical center is also accepting the more universal PPO plans.

"It only made sense for us to take the necessary steps to accept both," said Christopher Lomeau, an administrative resident at Medical Center.

Across town, at Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital, negotiations to offer Blue Cross' HMO plans came to an abrupt halt.

"Because we have a tenet facility here and we were not already signed up when tenet and blue cross inked the deal it did exclude us from being able to participate," said Jane Ann Bridges, the chief financial officer for Nacogodoches Memorial Hospital.

Memorial hospital is able to accept Blue Cross' higher priced PPO plans. Even so, non-profit hospitals are designed to serve those most in need. Yet Memorial won't be able to accept Blue Cross' more affordable plans.

"And that was one of our arguments with Blue Cross, but unfortunately, it is business," Bridges said.

Nacogdoches Memorial is now offering a private health care plan that they say is competitive with the lower tier HMO's accepted at Medical Center.

"Yes it is, plus the service that is provided," Bridges said.

The competition is on to seek the newly insured customer. Both hospitals are actively enrolling individuals. The effort is getting easier.

"Ii remember putting up a poster earlier this year, and someone came up to me and asked me, 'What is that?'" Lomeau said. "I described it to them. They said, 'Wow, that sounds amazing. It's so much better than Obamacare', but then they realized it was Obamacare. And so I think you're starting to see people realize, 'Hey, this isn't as bad as I thought it was.'"

But with the new customer comes a certain degree of risk. Hospital administrators remain concerned about the possibility of unpaid deductibles.

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