BJC Health System has agreed to buy nine medical centers from Group Health Plan of St. Louis. The medical centers are doctor's offices in the St. Louis area with laboratory, radiology, pharmacy and eye-care services attached.
Included are the medical practices of 75 primary-care and specialty physicians, and 475 employees.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The seller is Coventry Corp., Group Health's parent company. Coventry, based in Nashville, operates managed-care plans in six states. In the St. Louis region, it provides managed care to 262,000 beneficiaries, of whom 92,000 get their care through the medical centers BJC is buying.
Those Group Health enrollees will continue to receive care from their doctors. BJC will receive a percentage of the Group Health capitated premium to cover medical expenses of Group Health enrollees.
Over the past year, the Group Health physicians changed their structure from a staff-model HMO to a medical practice group. Group Health said in a statement that managed-care companies nationwide are divesting their proprietary medical groups.
"As managed care has grown, the need for insurance organizations to own and operate their own medical practices has diminished," said Group Health President Richard H. Jones. "This strategic arrangement with BJC . . . allows us to focus on what we do best-provide marketing, medical management and the administration of health services."
BJC is the region's largest consortium of hospitals, healthcare services and medical professionals. The system said Group Health's centers complement its network of aligned physicians offices and increase accessibility to medical services.
BJC President Fred L. Brown said the addition of the medical offices moves BJC closer to its goal of becoming a fully integrated healthcare delivery and financing system.
BJC currently is negotiating an alliance with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Missouri that would put the state's largest insurer under the same roof with its largest provider.