UCLA Medical Center loses its Blue Shield
Blue Shield of California has suspended its relationship with UCLA Medical Center, one of the state’s top hospitals, in a dispute over the cost of treating patients there. It’s a disturbing sign of things to come in the healthcare industry, as insurers become increasingly resistant to the cost increases that they routinely passed along in previous years. Although the standoff is hard on the patients who’ve lost access to UCLA, Blue Shield is right about one thing: The healthcare industry is on an unsustainable path, and every segment must start focusing on cost control.That dislocation is bad for consumers because it disrupts the relationship they’ve built up with their physicians. But Blue Cross believes UC is trying to increase its negotiating leverage for future contracts, not rein in costs. An insurance policy that offers consumers access to doctors at a price they can’t afford isn’t good for them either, no matter how exceptional the care may be.