Pittsburg insurer makes move to purchase health care system

Highmark Inc., a not for profit insurer in Pittsburg, has negotiated a deal to acquire West Penn Allegheny Health System, according to the Wall Street Journal.

According to the article, if the plan is approved by regulators, the insurer will move away from the traditional fee-for-service payment model, and will instead pay salaries to doctors, offering them incentives to achieve quality and efficiency goals.

Past efforts to integrate insurers and medical providers have produced mixed results, one success being the nonprofit Kaiser Permanente in California, which is noted as a model of efficient care.

(Sources: The Wall Street Journal, http://online.wsj.com, June29, 2011; The Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, June 30, 2011)