HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care industry intelligence, finds that the recent enforcement of Arkansas' "any willing provider" law will shake up Little Rock's highly consolidated healthcare market. According to the latest issue of the Little Rock Market Overview, although Baptist Health, St. Vincent Health System, and the UAMS Medical Center control the Little Rock healthcare provider market, accounting for 70 percent of inpatient hospital discharges, their new freedom to contract with all health plans will change local competitive dynamics.

"The integrated healthcare delivery systems have jumped quickly to adapt to the law," said Patrick Powers, HealthLeaders-InterStudy senior analyst. "After years of contracting exclusively with Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, Baptist Health negotiated new health plan contracts with two national plans, while St. Vincent Health System, long shut out of Blue Cross's exclusive provider network, can now serve Blue members."

Baptist Health has begun providing in-network covered services to enrollees of two national managed care organizations, UnitedHealthcare of Arkansas and CIGNA HealthCare of Arkansas. Despite the loss of its exclusive relationship with Baptist Health, Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, which dominates the local market with 56 percent of the fully insured managed care enrollment, is expected to continue to be the health plan leader in the Little Rock healthcare market.

While increased access and competition will probably drive health plan premiums down in the short term, non-exclusive provider networks with decreased cost control are likely to increase costs to consumers in the long term.

  Other news about the Little Rock healthcare market:   * The number of Arkansans without health insurance increased from 15     percent in 2001 to 17 percent of the population in 2004.   * As of January 1, the state's new Arkansas Rx program will increase     access to prescription drugs for low-income residents.    About Market Overviews 

Market Overviews provides a detailed analysis of local healthcare markets, allowing healthcare businesses to plan their local strategies.

About HealthLeaders-InterStudy

HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a company of Decision Resources, Inc. (http://www.decisionresources.com/), is the authoritative source for managed care data, analysis, and news. For more information, please visit http://www.healthleaders-interstudy.com/.

All company, brand, or product names contained in this document may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

  For more information, contact:    Alex Jablokow   Decision Resources   781-296-2562   ajablokow@dresources.com 

SOURCE: HealthLeaders-InterStudy

CONTACT: Alex Jablokow of Decision Resources, +1-781-296-2562,
ajablokow@dresources.com

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