The Memorial Hospital of Union County has reached an agreement with insurance provider Aetna that will allow the hospital to remain in-network for the next three years.

The Memorial Hospital of Union County has reached an agreement with insurance provider Aetna that will allow the hospital to remain in-network for the next three years.

According to public relations and development specialist Stephanie Lantz, the hospital and Aetna have agreed to all major terms that will allow both the hospital's services and its urgent care to remain in-network. All that is left are the signatures on the final document, according to Lantz.

Hospital president and CEO Chipp Hubbs said the hospital would not normally make a public announcement before documents are officially signed, but the hospital staff learned that Aetna subscribers received a confusing letter from their insurance carrier.

"It was brought to our attention that Aetna sent another round of letters to their subscribers indicating that we again were going to be out-of-network effective Dec. 31, 2010," Hubbs said. "Their people are telling us that it was an error on their part, with the system that generates those messages not being 'turned off' when the extension was granted."

Hubbs stressed that the hospital will be in-network for Aetna subscribers.

"We understand that patients are scheduling appointments into the new year and the letter many have received creates additional confusion," he said. "We want to confirm that we are still in-network for Aetna patients and as soon as the final agreement is signed, all will be set for three years."

Negotiations between the two parties have been continuing for the past 10 months. A one-month extension of the existing contract was agreed to in November, after the contract was set to expire.

Aetna is one of the Memorial Hospital's four largest managed-care payers, and is one of the larger providers in Union County as the provider for the county's largest employer, Honda of America Mfg.

Honda's East Liberty auto plant is staffed by about 2,400 associates, while its Marysville plant is staffed by about 4,400 associates, according to Honda.

Hubbs said that while the negotiations were "long and bumpy," the final contract is one that is fair to both Memorial Hospital and Aetna, and allows the hospital and its urgent care to remain in-network, providing local access to Aetna enrollees.