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BHS and VIVA HEALTH partner to form unique Medicare health plan
Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Kate DeWitt Darden
Baptist Health System
VP, Marketing/Communications/Public Relations
205.715.5196 (O)

Baptist Health System and VIVA HEALTH have joined forces on a Medicare Advantage health plan that offers lower out-of-pocket costs and close coordination of members’ health care needs.  Unveiled this week in advance of the annual enrollment period (AEP) that runs Oct. 15 – Dec. 7, the new VIVA MEDICARE Me plan has a primary network of Baptist’s four hospitals and more than 400 physicians in the Baptist Physician Alliance.

"This is exciting for us because not only is it a partnership that is new to the area but it is focused on some key areas of health care that we think are important," said Baptist Health System President and CEO Shane Spees. "More than half of our patients are Medicare patients, and we've become very good at caring for this senior population."

In exchange for staying within the Baptist network for most of their care, members will have lower costs, such as a $5 co-pay to visit their primary care physician.  VIVA MEDICARE Me is the only Medicare Advantage health plan in Alabama to be co-branded by a hospital system and an insurance company.  VIVA MEDICARE Me is a Medicare Advantage health plan offered to Medicare beneficiaries with coverage starting January 1, 2014.  Medicare Advantage plans are private health plans that take the place of traditional Medicare and often, as with VIVA MEDICARE Me, offer additional benefits and lower out-of-pocket costs.  Every year from Oct. 15- Dec. 7, Medicare beneficiaries may choose a Medicare Advantage plan or switch to a new one for the following year. 

VIVA MEDICARE Me provides an additional choice for members in Jefferson, Shelby, Walker and Talladega counties, where Baptist Health System operates hospitals – Princeton Baptist, Shelby Baptist, Walker Baptist and Citizens Baptist Medical Centers.

With the VIVA MEDICARE Me plan, Baptist Health System and VIVA HEALTH will be able to share data about the members’ health care to make sure the members are getting the right care in the right health care setting at the right time.

"The new plan will provide coordinated physician care and communication for its members, which is especially important for those patients who have chronic health conditions, whether hospitalized or not, who could benefit from this level of communication and service,” said BHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elizabeth Ennis.

“The Baptist Physician Alliance physicians will practice in a highly coordinated manner, to report and share their clinical quality data with their colleagues and to work collegially and collaboratively in adopting 'best practices' for patient care. We eagerly look forward to this opportunity to serve our many Medicare patients in this innovative and exciting way."

“We are interested in innovations that will help bring about true health care reform that puts insurance companies, providers and patients all on the same team,” said Cardwell Feagin, VIVA HEALTH’s chief operating officer. “We feel like we already have a strong partnership with all our providers, and we have a similar model with our owner, UAB Health System.  But this alliance with Baptist tests a new type of relationship with a provider that does not have common ownership. If this is successful, as we believe it will be, we would be interested in similar models with other providers in the future.”

For Baptist Health System, the new Medicare plan is just another step toward its goal of putting the patient first. 

Baptist Health System
Baptist Health System, Inc. is one of the largest health care systems in Alabama and one of the state's largest employers.  The System is a not-for-profit, 501(c) corporation that owns and manages four hospitals in the state of Alabama.  Baptist Health System is a ministry of the churches of the Birmingham Baptist Association, whose representatives elect the Board of Trustees.  It was founded in 1922 by a group of local Baptist congregations. 

Founded in 1996, VIVA HEALTH is licensed to sell employer group health coverage in 45 Alabama counties and has a contract with the federal government to offer private Medicare plans in 24 counties. VIVA HEALTH has the largest Medicare Advantage plan in its service area, including the Birmingham metropolitan area. The company has approximately 40,000 Medicare members and provides or administers health benefits for 55,000 people through their employer-sponsored coverage.  VIVA HEALTH is a member of the UAB Health System.


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