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New hospital inks deal with SelectCare

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There's been a big step forward for the Guam Regional Medical Center in boosting its potential patient base. The new hospital has signed an agreement with Guam's largest health insurer, Calvo's SelectCare.

SelectCare administrator Frank Campillo says he could not discuss rates, but he confirmed that after six weeks of negotiating, they have reached a deal with GRMC. "They bring some new equipment, they bring some new expertise and it's a game changer for the island. They'll provide some care that in the past was not available on the island, so we're excited about that," he stated.

GRMC president Margaret Bengzon says reaching agreement with Calvo's SelectCare was important, and she's now hoping at least two other local health insurers will follow suit. "We're fairly sure that having brought them on board you know the other guys might think about coming around, too. So we this is as a definite major turning point in how busy we're going to be going forward," she said.

The new hospital has said it is relying on patients not just from Guam, but from throughout  the region to use its facilities rather than travel to other hospitals in manila or the mainland. Bengzon said, "Specialty care needs to be available at home. And this whole idea of traveling home, or rather traveling off-island for health care is really not a sustainable situation." She added, "The success of GRMC is not just the success of a private enterprise.  It's really about changing the face of Guam health care, and we all need to get behind it."

Local insurance companies have been successful in sending their patients to Manila in particular for specialty care.

Campillo says it's too early to say what percentage of those patients might now be re-directed to GRMC.  "Manila has been a more affordable destination for medical care and that has helped keep the rates down. That's something that our actuarial team will have to work on and look at in the future. But I anticipate that within the first six months of the year a good 20% of the people that used to go to manila will possibly stay here in the island," he said.

What also remains to be seen is the impact the new private hospital will have on the government-owned Guam Memorial Hospital. Campillo says they will be keeping a close eye on quality of care and outcomes, saying, "Their bed capacity is full and they have overflow. I expect, anticipate some of that overflow will start going to GRMC, and the Guam Memorial Hospital needs to step up their game. Clearly the facility needs to improve a little bit you know. Unfortunately it's an old facility, but when you talk about the care, the quality of the care at the Guam Memorial Hospital, the primary care has been good, I have experienced that myself."

The agreement with GRMC comes just ahead of GovGuam health insurance open enrollment season, to be followed shortly by federal employee Open Enrollment.

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