HMO Action May Force 31,000 to Switch Doctors

Medical insurer Health Net of California said Friday it will sever its ties with St. Joseph Health System of Orange at the end of the year, a move that could force more than 31,000 Health Net members to find new doctors.

Health Net, one of the state's largest health maintenance organizations, said it decided to leave Orange County's biggest physician network because St. Joseph would not reduce contract costs after losing a major medical practice.

About 52,000 Health Net members have primary care physicians through St. Joseph, and the HMO said at least 21,000 of them will be able to remain with their doctors through other existing contracts.

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