Cedars-Sinai and UCLA cut from Los Angeles health plan
About 2,200 city workers and family will lose their doctors as Anthem Blue Cross pares pricey providers.
Two of the most prestigious names in Southern California healthcare — Cedars-Sinai and UCLA — are getting shut out of a major insurance plan for being too expensive.
In a bold cost-cutting move, Anthem Blue Cross has eliminated doctors affiliated with the hospitals from a health plan offered to about 60,000 employees and dependents at the cash-strapped city of Los Angeles.
The city opted for Anthem's plan because it will save $7.6 million in annual premiums next year by excluding physicians from the two institutions known for tending to the Southland's rich and famous. About 2,200 city workers and family members are expected to lose access to their doctors under the plan.
This dramatic step shows that even some of the most-respected names in medicine can't get by on reputation alone at a time when the U.S. is grappling with a $2.6-trillion healthcare bill annually. Major hospitals and medical groups face growing pressure to justify their charges. And employers increasingly are willing to risk the ire of workers by cutting popular providers to clamp down on costs.
"Purchasers are sending a signal that certain prices are just unaffordable," said David Lansky, chief executive of the Pacific Business Group on Health, which represents large companies such as Walt Disney Co. "We want great teaching and medical research institutions to survive. Whether that should happen by charging everyone in society a higher rate for routine services is more debatable."
City officials are sending letters this week to employees informing them that their Cedars-Sinai and UCLA doctors will no longer be covered under Anthem's Select health plans, effective Jan. 1. About 27,000 city workers and their families are enrolled in Anthem. Of those, the city said less than 10% have UCLA or Cedars physicians.
An additional 32,000 city employees and family members with Kaiser Permanente aren't affected, and most Los Angeles police officers, firefighters and retirees are covered by separate contracts.