The two Baptist hospitals have a new physician group operating their emergency rooms and services, which will affect
Baptist Health has outsourced the physician group that serves the two hospitals' emergency rooms to a third party, and that group does not accept Blue Cross Blue Shield, County Employee Benefits Administrator
This change does not apply to
The memo also stated that the new physician group is working on establishing a contract with
"Florida Blue has reached out to them to attempt to bring them in network," county spokeswoman
Also, the memo advised county employees to consider using a primary care physician as an alternative to an emergency room visit if they have a non-life-threatening emergency.
In the interim,
With health insurance options already somewhat limited in the Keys, this change could add out-of-pocket expense to the county employee and resident populations who receive out-of-network care.
Outsourcing of services or general cost cutting is nothing new for the healthcare industry, even before the coronavirus pandemic. For example, many healthcare providers offer telemedicine options, both in the interest of cutting costs as well as maintaining distancing.
However, over the past few years there has been an upward trend of hospitals outsourcing clinically relevant services - like anesthesiology and emergency medicine - to companies separate from the hospital. When that happens, hospitals relinquish some of the control they have over quality of care. Berry's research focused on four clinically relevant services - emergency care, radiology, laboratory services and environmental services - and found "tangible harm to patients and hospitals" when those were outsourced.
Comments on social media about the local ER change ranged from anger to resigned acceptance. Some, like
Efforts to reach Baptist Health for comment went unanswered before press time.