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IFHS Negotiates Better Reimbursement Rate for CIGNA Insurance

Laura Kraegel/KUCB

Starting next month, Unalaskans with CIGNA health insurance will get better reimbursement rates when they visit the clinic.

Executive Director Eileen Conlon Scott said Iliuliuk Family and Health Services has renegotiated its contract with one the biggest insurers on the island. That means 20 percent of clinic patients will save more money — including all city and school district employees.

"CIGNA agreed last week to pay 90 percent of all charges, which is probably one of the best contracts you can ever get in the medical insurance world," said Scott.

In the past, CIGNA only reimbursed patients for 65-80 percent of their bills, depending on the type of clinic visit or procedure.

That's still the case for Blue Cross Blue Shield, which insures a quarter of all clinic patients in Unalaska.

Scott said Blue Cross Blue Shield reimburses 90 percent of costs for certain types of clinic visits. For everything else, though, there's a lower range the company agrees to cover.

"Blue Cross will not do it across the board," said Scott. "I've already tried that with them a while back."

While it's unlikely that Blue Cross Blue Shield will match CIGNA's new rate, Scott said the clinic is working to improve insurance rates for another big chunk of the community: fishermen.

"These smaller boats that maybe have five employees, we're finding a lot of them don't have insurance," said Scott. "So we're trying to figure out a way — a co-op or something — that they can all join and actually buy health insurance, so everybody's insured on the island."

Until then, CIGNA's new reimbursement rate will go into effect September 1.

The rate will also apply for Unalaskans with EBMS, CIGNA's spinoff insurance, which covers employees of Westward and Alyeska Seafoods.

Laura Kraegel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2020. She was KUCB's news director starting in 2019. We are proud to have her back in the spring of 2023 filling in as an interim reporter for KUCB.
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