Northwell, Cigna work it out, call off divorce

Done deal: Despite a premature alert, nothing changes between Connecticut-based Cigna and New Hyde Park-based Northwell Health come the New Year.

It turns out reports of Northwell Health’s split with the Cigna Health and Life Insurance Co. have been somewhat exaggerated.

That very nearly wasn’t so: The health system’s hospitals, physicians, laboratories, home-health providers and other facilities and services came this close to parting ways with Cigna. But all Northwell doctors and facilities will remain in the Cigna fold as of Jan. 1.

With renewal negotiations at an impasse and the current contract between the New Hyde Park-based health system and the Connecticut-based insurer set to expire Dec. 31, Cigna – in accordance with federally mandated 30-day notice requirements – sent a letter to customers last week stating that all Northwell facilities and providers would be removed from Cigna’s coverage plans in the New Year.

According to the letter, customers receiving services on or after Jan. 1 at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Huntington Hospital, the Peconic Bay Medical Center and all other Northwell Health facilities would “have to pay the out-of-network rate,” among other changes.

But with just days to spare before the end of the current contract, Northwell Health announced Thursday that it’s reached an accord with Cigna, and the two sides will continue their 20-year-plus relationship uninterrupted.

According to the health system, “Members and employers should disregard any communication from Cigna or others stating that Northwell providers will not participate with Cigna health plans.”

“The agreement will continue without change through 2018 and all Northwell patients who are insured through Cigna will continue to be welcomed and cared for by Northwell providers,” Northwell added in a statement.

Noting the health system “puts its patients first to ensure that all patients receive the medical care they need,” Northwell Executive Vice President Howard Gold, the system’s chief managed care officer, apologized for any misunderstandings caused by Cigna’s preemptive announcement.

“We regret any confusion or inconvenience caused by Cigna’s letter,” Gold said Thursday.

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