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News >  Idaho

Idaho hospital giant denies conflict of interest concerns

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 18, 2017

By Kimberlee Kruesi Associated Press

BOISE – Concerns over possible conflicts of interest involving a contract between Idaho’s leading health care provider and the Your Health Idaho exchange are unwarranted, officials with St. Luke’s Health System said Monday.

St. Luke’s was recently hired by the state to counsel potential customers on Idaho’s health insurance exchange.

Some Your Health Idaho board members raised concerns the contract doesn’t include an auditing mechanism to prevent St. Luke’s counselors from steering customers to plans that financially benefit the hospital.

St. Luke’s says its counselors are vigorously trained by Your Health Idaho and also sign an affidavit agreeing to be impartial.

“I think in all of my experience, the applicants are choosing their plans on premium price,” said Rachel Seaman, manager of patient access resource center at St. Luke’s. “When we’re working with a potential applicant, it’s some who needs help or has questions.”

St. Luke’s tracks what plans applicants select as an extra check that their counselors aren’t influencing customers, but Your Health Idaho doesn’t require that information to be handed over in monthly reports.

Your Health Idaho board members noted that St. Luke’s has a business partnership with Utah-based insurer SelectHealth – one of four insurance carriers on the exchange.

All the providers also offer plans tailored around St. Luke’s network.

Seaman said Monday that the majority of applications working with a counselor selected a plan with Mountain Health Co-Op. The second most selected plan was SelectHealth, then Blue Cross and Pacific Source.

St. Luke’s is receiving $18,164 to pay for 50 counselors as part of the exchange’s enrollment entity contract, which totals $272,000. The remaining amount will go to the Idaho Primary Care Association.

Nearly 106,000 Idahoans enrolled on the state-based exchange this year as part of the Affordable Care Act

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