PEORIA — All central Illinois UnityPoint Health facilities and physicians are now in-network for patients with Humana Health Insurance.

The change went into effect on Jan. 1, correcting a fragmentation within the UnityPoint Health system that sometimes affected patients who needed services at multiple locations. UnityPoint’s Pekin and Proctor hospitals were in-network with Humana, but Methodist hospital was not.

“Open heart surgery, for instance, is something we don’t offer at the Proctor or Pekin hospitals,” said Dr. Keith Knepp, president of UnityPoint Health, during a conference call Wednesday afternoon. “But we do offer it at Methodist. So it was up to the patient to make the choice of possibly bearing a higher expense or going to another facility. Being an in-network provider at all our facilities makes it easier to maintain a better continuity of care.”

The fragmentation was a legacy dating back to the time when Methodist, Proctor and Pekin hospitals were run by different companies. In years past, insurance products were often offered exclusively at only one hospital in a market, said Rob Quin, regional chief financial officer for UnityPoint Health.

“Some plans were exclusive to OSF (HealthCare) products, and some were exclusive to UnityPoint products. It was just the nature of the environment,” he said. “In recent years we’ve seen an evolution occur where health care plans are now offering patients more choice in their providers. That has happened sooner in some markets, and Peoria is just now getting there.”

In addition to becoming an in-network provider with Humana, UnityPoint Health is once again in-network for Molina Healthcare, one of Illinois’ four Medicaid managed care organizations. UnityPoint terminated its contract with Molina for 2018.

“They had underlying performance issues that needed to be addressed that were getting to the point that we were unable to work with them,” said Quin. “They now have new leadership in place for the Illinois plan and have greatly improved operations.”

UnityPoint Health is now in-network with all the major health care plans in central Illinois — Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Aetna/Coventry, United, Humana and all four Medicaid managed care organizations. UnityPoint services are now more accessible to more central Illinois residents, a fact that is key to being competitive in the market, said Quin.

“It was one of the last pieces of the puzzle to get Peoria on an even playing field and let the patient make the choice of where they want to go,” said Quin. “I think at the end of the day, the patient wins and the community wins because it will continue to drive increased patient satisfaction.” 

Leslie Renken can be reached at 686-3250 or lrenken@pjstar.com. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.