Questions and Answers
What has been announced?
As of July 1, UnityPoint Health - Meriter, UnityPoint Health, UW Health, Physicians Plus Insurance Corp., Unity Health Plans Insurance Corp., and Gundersen Health Plan are officially integrating and combining our organizational strengths to better serve our community.
- All regulatory reviews have been completed
- All agreements have been approved, signed and closed
What does this announcement mean?
UW Health and UnityPoint Health – Meriter are now operating as a transparent, unified health system. While we remain separate entities, we are now able to develop an efficient delivery system, combining organizational strengths to provide high value, remarkable health care. This includes:
- Representation at leadership levels (Board of Directors, senior leadership)
- Shared strategy, led by UW Health
- Financial alignment between organizations, removing any financial incentive or disincentive for using certain facilities or providers
- Full clinical integration with Meriter/UnityPoint Clinic-employed specialists transitioning to UW Health employment over a period of several years and strong coordination among primary care providers
- A shift in new admission of hospital patients to UnityPoint Health – Meriter (available capacity) rather than University Hospital (near max capacity)
On the insurance side, Physicians Plus Insurance Corp. becomes the newest affiliate under the Quartz brand, along with Unity Health Insurance and Gundersen Health Plan. This allows us to provide our members and community a more comprehensive offering from highly respected providers and facilities, and to further meet the diverse health plan needs of this community. In the future, UnityPoint Health – Meriter and UW Health providers and facilities, along with many local independent doctors, will be combined into an integrated network.
Why are the organizations collaborating?
For UW Health and UnityPoint Health - Meriter, this is a commonsense next step in our long-standing relationship to deliver excellent care. For Unity and Gundersen Health Plan and Physicians Plus, we recognize that in order to provide the products and services that meet the needs of our customers on a sustainable basis, we need to come together. Given today's evolving health care landscape, collaboration is the best thing for those we serve.
How is this different from the way that UW Health and UnityPoint Health - Meriter work together now?
The joint operating agreement envisions a financial alignment of UW Health and UnityPoint Health – Meriter in a way that allows for use of collective resources to their fullest and most beneficial extent for the community. Through this more formal alignment, our physicians can increase access to care for patients and further build a smart, efficient delivery system that optimizes the best of both organizations and cares for patients when and where they need care.
How will this control costs?
Collaboration between both UW Health and UnityPoint Health – Meriter, and UW Health, as well as Unity and Gundersen Health and Plan Physicians Plus, makes the best use of scarce resources and allows for the sharing of best practices to more effectively manage our organizations.
Will UnityPoint Health - Meriter doctors, clinics and services be fully available to Unity and Gundersen Health Plan members?
Yes. If these collaborations are finalized, the combination of Physicians Plus, and Unity and Gundersen Health Plan would increase access to Unity and Gundersen Health Plan members and also potentially increase the patient population UnityPoint Health - Meriter physicians serve.
When will the expanded network for the combined insurance entity be available? (e.g., When will Meriter doctors be "in-network" for Unity members?)
Pending closing this summer, we anticipate the broader network options of the combined insurance entities will be available on or before January 1, 2018.
Does anything change for current patients of either organization? Can I continue to see my doctor?
Nothing changes today for members of Physicians Plus Insurance Corp., Unity Health Plans Insurance Corp. and Gundersen Health Plan because of the closing of these agreements. However, in the future Meriter physicians and facilities will be open to all Unity members.
On the provider side, some patients needing inpatient care that historically have gone to University Hospital may soon start receiving care appropriate at Meriter as our systems work together to best utilize available space and talent.
Both changes will increase access, improve care coordination and remove the red tape of insurance networks.
How does this impact community giving?
The collaboration will provide us with an opportunity to strengthen many of our current relationships. We are looking forward to exploring such possibilities, and we are committed to keeping the community updated and informed as we move through this process.
How will this impact UW and Meriter Foundations?
Both the UnityPoint Health - Meriter Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Foundation continue their outstanding work in the community. Please be assured that all donations made to date – and moving forward – will continue to support our missions of giving back to Madison.
How do I stay updated?
We are committed to keeping the community informed throughout this process. You can find updates on our organizations' respective websites (unitypoint.org, uwhealth.org, pplusic.com, unityhealth.com or quartzbenefits.com).