BETHLEHEM TOWNSHIP -- Geisinger Health System and St. Luke's University Health Network of Bethlehem have signed an agreement to share services.
The announcement was made Tuesday in Easton. Officials at Geisinger and St. Luke's are calling the agreement a collaborative partnership.
According to officials at Geisinger and St. Luke's, this means patients will see a reduction in premiums. Patients will also have easier access to providers and better patient care.
St. Luke's University Health Network is based in the Lehigh Valley. The nationally recongnized healthcare system provides services to more than 270 sites. It also has six hospitals with a new $80 million hospital that is being built in Monroe County.
Geisinger Health System is based out of the Danville area. Geisinger has 12 hospital campuses including 350 sites in Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey.
The collaboration of St. Luke's and Geisinger will improve access to affordable healthcare to people living in nearly 50 counties in Pennsylvania.
"Now you have a health system here that's backed by an insurance company that for 100 years has really focused on better care, closer to home, easier to get to, easier to understand, more coordinated," said Geisinger CEO Dr. David Feinberg.
Geisinger and St. Luke's believe working together will allow the two to implement new models in care, as well as collaborating with physicians. They also believe working together will save patients money.
"You consider the fact that we at the hospitals control the quality, control the affordable care, and we also own the insurance company. We will be able to lower our prices because we have another option for people to select," said St. Luke's University Health Network CEO Richard Anderson.
People we talked to about this announcement say they're on board and hope that it provides more medical options in northeastern and central Pennsylvania.
"I think it's good because we've had services from both of them and especially me. I've had services from Geisinger on the VA program, the Choice program. They have been excellent," said Ferdinand Gonzalez.
Dr. Donald Hiemenz has been a doctor with St. Luke's for over 20 years in the Pocono community. He thinks this partnership is a good move for the medical field.
"I think there's always a need for physicians to enable patients to have greater access to medical care. I think with Geisinger and St. Luke's joining together, it'll just increase the availability for the patients of the local community."
The new partnership will also allow St. Luke's employees and their dependents to become members of Geisinger Health plan beginning January 1.
Changing healthcare providers will allow St. Luke's to save $500,000 a year.