Idaho physicians' network shrinks

A 20-year relationship with the North Idaho Health Network comes to an end.

COEUR D’ALENE PRESSFebruary 27, 2014 

The hospital’s physicians have been with the network shortly after it was formed in 1994 to negotiate with health insurance companies. Now Kootenai Health’s exit will decrease the network by about 80 doctors, said Dr. Michael A. Dixon, the executive director in Coeur d’Alene.

Other hospitals in North Idaho also have pulled out doctors, trimming the network by about 100 physicians, to 220. The network works to give doctors a voice in decisions on patient care and to limit insurance company control.

“Kootenai Health sees a different path to the future,” Dixon said. “The path they’re taking is to be the network, not to work with networks like this.”

He said Kootenai Health and some other North Idaho hospitals want to grow through mergers and acquisitions. They want to control doctor referrals and keep patients within their smaller individual networks.

“Instead of working collaboratively with everybody, they feel that they have to have more control than that by actually controlling everything,” Dixon said.

Kootenai Health spokeswoman Kim Anderson says the hospital formerly worked through the network to develop agreements with some health insurance companies. “Today, Kootenai has direct agreements with all the major insurance companies, as well as Medicare and Medicaid,” Anderson said.

The North Idaho Health Network in December changed its name to Convergence Health Partners LLC. It has four employees and makes most of its money by charging insurance companies access fees.

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