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FL Blue-Owned Centers Sign Of Times?

The arrival of insurer-owner emergency centers is catching the attention among those in the hospital industry.

Florida Blue is preparing to open its third GuideWell Health emergency care center in Winter Park, joining other facilities in Largo and Tallahassee, the Orlando Sentinelreports.

The facilities are able to treat people with minor ailments, such as needing stitches to more serious situations, such as heart attacks and strokes. It will accept patients with any type of insurance, according to the Sentinel.

Bruce Rueben, president of the Florida Hospital Association, said if insurance companies are transparent about how they operate, "you don't have to fear that the incentive for controlling costs are not in the best interests of the patients," he told the Sentinel.

Insurance companies are not alone in buying physician practices or launching new ones. Some hospitals are doing the same, the Sentinel reports. Orlando Health, Florida Hospital and Nemours all have brought doctor’s practices. Florida Hospital also has started its own insurance company, the Sentinel reports.

Editor's note: An earlier headline and quote was clarified.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.