A new health insurer partly owned by Saint Alphonsus Medical Center is open for business, providing a new resource for Medicare coverage in Malheur County.

Summit Health is a partnership of Saint Alphonsus, three other hospital systems and other organizations. The majority owner is Moda of Portland, one of Oregon’s largest health insurers.

“The idea behind Summit Health is to create a plan that’s for eastern Oregon,” said Sean Jessup, company president.

He said Summit Health can now provide original Medicare insurance, providing hospitalization insurance, and additional benefits for medical and dental coverage as well as hearing aids.

Because of the partners involved, those buying Summit Health’s coverage would have guaranteed access to medical providers, Jessup said.

Open enrollment for to get Summit Health coverage begins Thursday, Oct. 15, and closes Dec. 7. Details about its plans, available to those 65 and older, can be found on its website at www.yoursummithealth.com.

Jessup said the idea for the new regional insurer has been in the works for three years. He said the partners, which include Good Shepherd Health Care System, Grande Ronde Hospital and Clinics and CHI St. Anthony Hospital, have been working together since 2012 to provide Medicaid services. Other partners include Eastern Oregon IPA, GOBHI and Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic.

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