Bon Secours, Optima reach agreement in health care coverage negotiations

Over 54,000 Virginians on Optima insurance plans will continue to be able to get care in-network at Bon Secours facilities after the two groups have reached a deal in contract negotiations Wednesday, according to releases from both companies.

Earlier this month, Optima Health, the insurance arm of Sentara Healthcare, and Bon Secours Mercy Health, the Ohio-based nonprofit health system that operates seven facilities in Suffolk, Newport News, Portsmouth and the Richmond area, said they had reached an impasse in negotiations. Had there been no agreement by March 1, Bon Secours facilities would have become out-of-network for those with Optima government-supported plans and commercial group insurance plans.

The new contract will last for three years, according to a Bon Secours spokesperson.

Optima and Bon Secours staff declined to go into detail.

“By advocating for fair market rates, we advocated for the members of our community to have access to high-quality health care in their neighborhood,” said the statement from Bon Secours. “At Bon Secours, our goal is to have long-term agreements with all major payors, including Optima Health, so our patients can have easy access to quality care in our community.”

Optima said in a Wednesday statement their goal has been to keep costs down for customers and they believe the new contract accomplishes that.

“We look forward to our continued relationship with Bon Secours Mercy Health and our shared desire to provide top-notch, quality care to our Optima Health members,” the statement said.

Earlier this month, Bon Secours had said there needed to be increases in health plan rates due to increases costs to provide care.

“Like many health systems across the country, Bon Secours’ Hampton Roads and Richmond markets have realized that years of increased costs require significant increases in health plan rates in order to continue to provide medically necessary covered services to contracted health plan beneficiaries,” a Feb. 6 statement said.

John Syer, senior vice president for provider networks of Sentara Health Plans, said in a statement on Feb. 6 that Bon Secours had “demanded unreasonable contract terms that will significantly increase the cost of care for our members.”

Ian Munro, 757-447-4097,