St. Luke's Health System denies conflict of interest concerns

Posted at 12:21 PM, Sep 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-18 14:21:32-04

Officials with St. Luke’s Health System say concerns over conflicts of interest involving a contract with Your Health Idaho are unwarranted.

The Idaho health care giant was recently awarded a portion of a contract to counsel potential customers on the state-based health insurance exchange. Some Your Health Idaho board members recently raised concerns the contract doesn't include an auditing mechanism to prevent St. Luke's counselors from steering customers to plans that financially benefit the hospital.

According to St. Luke's, their counselors are not only vigorously trained, but also sign an affidavit agreeing to be impartial.

Spokeswoman Anita Kissie says St. Luke's tracks what plans applicants select -- as an extra check, their counselors aren't influencing customers.

However, Pat Kelly -- Executive Director of Your Health Idaho -- told board members Friday the exchange does not collect that data.

In a prepared statement released over the weekend, Kissee said, “Of the applicants St. Luke's Enrollment Counselors have assisted through the entire enrollment process in the last two years, the majority of the applicants selected a plan with Mountain Health Co-Op, the second most selected plan was Select Health, then Blue Cross, Bridgespan and Pacific Source.”

“Enrollment counselors are fingerprinted and undergo background checks; they sign a legally-binding affidavit agreeing to be impartial and agree to refer any requests for plan recommendations to a licensed agent or broker. Lists of agents and brokers nearest the applicant’s zip code are given to the YHI applicant so they can select an agent on their own -– we do not refer to specific agents,” she added.

(Associated Press contributed to this story)