LEWISBURG - Evangelical Community Hospital now is a participating member of First Priority Health, a subsidiary of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, which allows for more health care options and choices for plan participants.
Union County is not part of the Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania coverage area, but because it is bordered to a county that is - Lycoming County - Evangelical was qualified to cover the plan, explained Kendra Aucker, vice president of operations and chief operating officer.
"For years, we've had people from Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania want to access us," Aucker said.
Evangelical surgeons work in the new operating suites of Evangelical Community Hospital’s Donehower-Eisenhauer Pavilion, which opened for patient care in July. An agreement with Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania allows First Priority Health participants access to Evangelical’s board certified surgeons, expanded services and physicians across a wide-range medical specialties, giving them more options for health care.
The numbers for the Williamsport area began to grow with people who wanted to receive care from Evangelical, including people who needed to use the emergency room at Evangelical even though their insurance did not cover the visits there.
Because of the increased interest, officials pursued adding the First Priority Health to its list of accepted insurances.
"We've worked this past year to contract with (Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania)," Aucker said.
Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is just one product Blue Cross offers.
"They have a variety of products they offer," Aucker said. "One of their insurance products is called First Priority Health. We've never been able to participate. It is by far their largest insurance product."
Despite not having First Priority Health until mid-October, Evangelical always has had Blue Cross products, Aucker said. This will just allow more people with Blue Cross to use the hospital's services.
"I think it's a great option for people who really want to flow in this direction," she said. "Evangelical is a strong, viable hospital. That area has wanted to access it and now it can."
She expects it to help the business community, for people who might work in Lycoming County but live in Union County.
The individuals in Lycoming County and the surrounding area who have First Priority Health will have access to Evangelical's advanced health care, which includes gall bladder specialists, hernia repair, bariatric services and wound care.
First Priority Health participants may request referrals from their primary care physicians for specialists and services associated with Evangelical Community Hospital.
The hospital's specialists include primary care physicians, pulmonologists, rheumatologists, physical therapists and board-certified surgeons at Evangelical Surgical Specialists.