West Virginia University To Acquire The Health Plan

WVU Health System’s acquisition to make it an integrated financing/delivery network

West Virginia University Health System is taking the first steps toward becoming an integrated health care financing and delivery system with Tuesday’s announcement it would merge with a Wheeling, West Virginia-based insurer.

Financial terms of the deal between WVU Health System, also known as WVU Medicine, and managed-care provider The Health Plan, weren’t disclosed. The Health Plan would become a subsidiary of WVU Health System as a nonprofit corporation.

An integrated financing and delivery system puts under one system both the payor and provider of health care similar in structure to UPMC, which owns its own insurance division, as well as Highmark Health, which owns insurer Highmark and the Allegheny Health Network. It’s a model that is increasingly employed elsewhere in the country, including Geisinger in the central part of Pennsylvania.

“By aligning and integrating our two organizations and by leveraging our respective expertise in a more coordinated fashion, we can deliver better outcomes to the people of West Virginia,” said WVU Health System President and CEO Albert L. Wright Jr. in a statement Tuesday. “The Health Plan will also continue to build collaborative, value-based partnerships with other health systems and independent providers in West Virginia.”

WVU Medicine is a powerhouse in West Virginia, based in Morgantown and including hospitals throughout West Virginia. It’s also is in the midst of a growth spurt, including the building of a new children’s tower and other facilities in Morgantown, and it’s expanding in Pennsylvania, including a facility just over the border into Waynesburg as well as a potential affiliation with Uniontown Hospital.

The Health Plan began operations in 1979 and has licenses in West Virginia’s 55 counties as well as a 36-county area in Ohio. As of 2017, it had 400 employees and four offices in Ohio and West Virginia. It offers a wide range of insurance options, including HMOs, PPOs, point-of-service and self-funded health plans. The Health Plan’s market share in group health in West Virginia was 7 percent with coverage of 20,024 lives, according to a West Virginia state report in 2017.