UMC adds Cigna to list of providers

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — University of Mississippi Medical Center has signed a multiyear agreement to join the network of Cigna Corporation.

The agreement took effect Sunday. Cigna officials won’t say when specifically the contract expires.

Matt Ungs, Cigna’s vice president of contracting and provider services, told The Clarion-Ledger (http://on.thec-l.com/KuLdcQ ) that in-network status applies not only to UMC itself but to its University Physicians group-practice offices.

“We think it’s a great option to our customers. We think it’s a positive addition to our network,” Ungs said.

UMC is Mississippi’s only teaching hospital and offers services in pediatric care and traumatic injuries that aren’t found at other hospitals in the state. UMC cares for the most inpatients of any hospital in Mississippi, with 10.7 percent of the state’s average daily patient count as of 2012, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.

Cigna currently has about 100,000 customers in Mississippi, including 18,000 in the Jackson area. Some 83 hospitals, including nine in the Jackson area, are part of its provider network.

Ungs said about 1,500 cases involving Cigna members were handled at UMC in 2012, when those customers were not in-network. He said that’s a fairly low percentage of the hospital’s overall volume but adds in-network status will help more patients stay in Mississippi when seeking certain types of care.

“It’s good to have from a patient’s standpoint because it gives them more choices,” says UMC spokesman Jack Mazurak.

Dr. James E. Keeton, UMC’s vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of its School of Medicine, added in a news release that joining Cigna’s network will help the hospital offer “the most advanced services right here at home.”

UMC last August extended by a year an agreement to remain in Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi’s provider network after six months of negotiations. The hospital also is in-network with United HealthCare, Aetna and a number of preferred-provider and private-health care organizations.

Headquartered in Connecticut, Cigna does business in 30 countries and counts 80 million customers globally.

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Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com

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