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Forum staff reports, Published November 16 2012

Blue Cross, Essentia agree on cost controls

FARGO – Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota has signed an agreement with Essentia Health that bases some payments on the health provider’s quality of care.

The so-called total cost of care contract is similar to agreements signed earlier by Sanford Health and Altru Health System, based in Grand Forks.

“We are thrilled that Essentia is a partner in our collective efforts to build an affordable health system in North Dakota,” said Sharon Fletcher, a senior vice president for the North Dakota Blues.

The shift toward “pay for performance” follows a national trend among insurers and medical providers that mirrors requirements under the new health reform law for “accountable care organizations.”

The goal, for both public and private insurers in partnership with providers, is to improve the quality of care and reduce health care costs.