Scripps Health, a popular healthcare provider in San Diego County, will no longer participate in Medicare Advantage plans starting Jan. 1, 2024, affecting approximately 32,000 seniors. This decision has been confirmed by Chris Van Gorder, Scripps’ CEO, who stated that it is not a negotiation tactic. While Scripps is affiliated with other physician independent practice associations that will continue to take Medicare Advantage plans, Scripps Coastal and Scripps Clinic have traditionally been the most sought after options for patients. As a result, many affected individuals are now looking for alternative healthcare options.
The decision made by Scripps Health to withdraw from Medicare Advantage plans is attributed to the financial challenges the organization is currently facing. Increased labor and supply costs have led to a projected operating loss, which would be the first in many years for Scripps. Other major healthcare systems, such as Mayo Clinic and Vanderbilt Health, have also withdrawn from Medicare Advantage due to diminishing margins. Despite having a substantial amount of cash in the bank, Scripps needs to maintain its savings for future borrowing to fund repairs and replacements of medical facilities and comply with seismic improvements mandated by state law. The organization fears that continued financial losses will hinder their ability to access the necessary funds and may result in hospital closures.
The decision by Scripps Health to withdraw from Medicare Advantage plans has left many patients searching for new doctors during the upcoming open enrollment period. Some patients are considering options such as UC San Diego Health, while others are concerned about the affordability and approval process for switching to original Medicare. Scripps has set up a hotline for affected patients to discuss potential next steps and find alternative providers. However, this development highlights the potential disparity between those who can afford to seek alternative care and those who may face limited healthcare options.