NorthBay Healthcare joins United network

NorthBay Healthcare has joined the network of Minnesota-based UnitedHealthCare, which will enable some 11,000 Solano County residents to be treated at NorthBay's two hospitals and various clinics , the two companies announced.

United members enrolled through either employer or individual health plans will be able to seek physicians and treatment from North Bay Medical Center in Farfield, VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville and four Centers for Primary Care  -- in Fairfield, Vacaville and Green Valley -- in addition to specialty physicians, according to NorthBay.

United has about 9,300 Solano County residents as members of its PPO health plan and another 2,300 that are part of its HMO.  It serves some 2.3 million members in California and 70 million nationwide.

Fairfield-based NorthBay Healthcare does not track the exact numbers of patients from any individual plan at any one time, making it difficult to determine an exact economic impact. But the contract nevertheless opens the door for a significant increase in patients who can now be referred to NorthBay facilities and physicians, spokesman Steve Huddleston said.

"More physicians can now direct their patients to NorthBay for procedures, hospital care and services that in some cases were not available to them before," he said, adding that in some cases, members of United's PPO already use NorthBay as an "out of network" provider, which typically requires a higher copay. Now, NorthBay is in network.

“This new relationship with UnitedHealthcare is a major addition and extends the care we provide to more residents in Northern California,” said Gary Passama, president and CEO of NorthBay Healthcare. “UnitedHealthcare and NorthBay share a common goal of providing convenient access to care to plan customers in our community. We are very pleased to now offer this choice to area employers and patients.”

 United's Califonia network includes almost 320 hospitals and more than 48,000 physicians and other health care professionals.

“NorthBay Healthcare is an important provider of health care services in this area, and our new network relationship gives UnitedHealthcare plan participants in Solano County greater access to quality medical facilities and skilled physicians close to where they live and work,” said Daniel Rosenthal, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual of Northern California.

NorthBay Healthcare includes specialized services such as the NorthBay Heart & Vascular Center, NorthBay Cancer Center and a host of affiliated physician practices including the Center for Women’s Health, Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology, Center for Pain Management, Orthopaedics, and other specialty care practices.  ***

St. Joseph Healthy System--Sonoma County, which overseas operations Santa Rosa Memorial and Petaluma Valley hospitals, was invited to the White House  last month to discuss best practices in community partnerships.

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