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North Allegheny switches to UnitedHealthcare

Kris B. Mamula
Reporter-Pittsburgh Business Times

North Allegheny School District has dropped Highmark Inc. health insurance, choosing instead to go with UnitedHealthcare coverage for teachers and staff effective Jan. 1, 2015.

The switch was prompted by the pending divorce of Highmark and rival UPMC, which will restrict Highmark member access to UPMC hospitals and doctors, according to a memo to school staff from Human Resources Director Laura Jo Welter. The school board approved the switch Wednesday.

North Allegheny’s switch coincides with a Pennsylvania marketing push by Minnetonka, Minn.-based UnitedHealthcare, the biggest insurer in the country by membership, but a company that historically has had only a small slice of the western Pennsylvania market.

North Allegheny is the second-largest school district in the region by enrollment, trailing onlyPittsburgh Public Schools. The change affects some 1,000 full-time equivalent employees and their dependents.

“Without this transition to a national carrier, North Allegheny School District staff would have experienced 60 percent disruption in care provided by local physicians and at nearby locations such as UPMC Passavant and Magee-Womens hospitals,” Welter wrote in the note.

The North Hills is served by two hospital campuses, both operated by UPMC. However, Highmark is preparing to open a large outpatient surgery and medical services center in Pine Township, which will serve the region.

Kris Mamula covers health care, insurance and employee benefits for the Pittsburgh Business Times. Contact him at kmamula@bizjournals.com or 412-208-3825.

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