The signatures are on the contract, and Memorial Hospital of Union County will remain in-network with insurance provider Aetna for at least the next three years.

The signatures are on the contract, and Memorial Hospital of Union County will remain in-network with insurance provider Aetna for at least the next three years.

The new contract is effective Jan. 1, 2011, according to hospital public relations and development specialist Stephanie Lantz.

"Both sides worked tremendously hard to finalize this agreement," said hospital president and CEO Chip Hubbs. "There were many challenges to overcome and much give-and-take from both parties. But, in the end, we believe we have in place a new contract that is mutually satisfactory."

The two parties were in negotiations for a new contract 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.

"This agreement reflects the genuine commitment both parties have had in negotiating an agreement that is in the best interest of all parties concerned," said Jay Timm, president of Aetna's Ohio market. "Both Memorial Hospital and Aetna wanted to reach a fair agreement, and we are very pleased to let the people know we succeeded, and that we appreciate their patience during the process."

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