UW Health in Madison, Wis., plans to partner and potentially merge insurance plans with UnityPoint Health-Meriter, a one-hospital system in southern Wisconsin.
Under the terms of the deal, clinicians at UnityPoint Health-Meriter will join UW Health to create a single, integrated clinical practice. This will help UW Health ease shortages at its flagship facility, University Hospital. The hospital's average occupancy is above 82%, according to a spokeswoman.
The systems will also share resources and facilities. UW Health is a six-hospital system with 1,400 physicians. UnityPoint Health-Meriter employs 3,500 at its 336-bed hospital and seven clinics. It's a subsidiary of UnityPoint Health, a West Des Moines, Iowa-based system that also operates hospitals in Iowa and Illinois.
UW Health and UnityPoint Health-Meriter will also explore combining its separate insurance plans. UW Health would merge its two insurance plans, Unity Health Plans Insurance Corp. and Gundersen Health Plan, with UnityPoint Health's Physicians Plus Insurance Corp.
Combining health plans will allow the systems to increase access to a broader network of providers and remain competitive, Dr. Alan Kaplan, CEO of UW Health, said in a news release.
UW Health has collaborated with UnityPoint Health-Meriter for nearly 50 years. In January 2015, the systems signed a joint operating agreement for obstetrics and neonatal services. UW Health has worked with UnityPoint on other services including the Madison Surgery Center and Generations Fertility Care.
UnityPoint-Meriter is about two miles from UW Health's main campus.
The organizations expect to finalize the agreement by the end of the year.