MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - UnitedHealthcare is currently in negotiations with the University of Alabama Birmingham Health System to renew its hospital contracts; however, they have yet to reach an agreement.
If an agreement is not reached by July 31 UnitedHealthcare will cut ties with the following hospitals:
- UAB Hospital
- Baptist Medical Center South
- Baptist Medical Center East
- Prattville Baptist Hospital
- Medical West Hospital
- Callahan Eye Hospital
Through July 31, all patients covered by UnitedHealthcare will still have access to all Baptist Health facilities; however, if an agreement is not met, then starting on Aug. 1, UnitedHealthcare patients will have to pay in-full for the services they receive.
UnitedHealthcare sent letters to its patients who receive treatments from hospitals associated with the UAB Health System. Roberta Herman lives in Montgomery, Alabama, and UnitedHealthcare is her health care provider. Herman sent WSFA 12 News an excerpt from the letter she recently received from UnitedHealthcare. The letter read in part:
“We’re writing to let you know about an important update with your plan’s providers. Our current contract with the University of Alabama Birmingham Health System and Baptist Medical Center South is ending. This means that they will no longer be part of your plan’s network. We know that the care you get from University of Alabama Birmingham Health System is important, so we’re working hard to keep them in the network. If we are able to reach a new agreement with them, we’ll send you a letter to let you know.”
UnitedHealthcare did provide Herman with a list of alternate providers in central Alabama. Those providers include but are not limited to:
- Jackson Hospital and Clinic
- Elmore Community Hospital
- Brookwood Baptist Medical Center
- Grandview Medical Center
- Princeton Baptist Medical Center
- Shelby Baptist Medical Center
- St. Vincent’s Hospital
Herman also received a letter from Baptist Health. That letter read:
“Baptist Health is currently in active negotiations with UnitedHealthcare to address existing health plan agreements for Baptist Medical Center South, Baptist Medical Center East, Prattville Baptist Hospital, Montgomery Surgical Center, and Baptist Health employed physicians prior to the current July 31, 2019 expiration.”
The letter went on to say that it’s standard practice for UnitedHealthcare to send letters to enrolled patients 45 days prior to expiration.
“Through July 31, 2019, any patient covered by UnitedHealthcare will continue to have uninterrupted access to Baptist Health facilities on an in-network basis. Beginning on August 1, 2019, any patient covered by UnitedHealthcare will have access to Baptist Health facilities, but on an out-or-network basis.”
UnitedHealthcare sent WSFA 12 News the following statement on the current negotiations, detailing why it may cut ties with the UAB Health System:
“Our priority is to establish a long-term relationship with UAB that helps drive quality care, lower costs and an improved patient experience for the people we serve throughout Alabama. UAB is significantly more expensive than all other health systems across the state, yet it is seeking substantial rate increases and demanding that we restrict local businesses from designing health care benefit plans that incentivize their employees to choose quality, lower-cost care providers.”
If an agreement is not met, approximately 25,000 UnitedHealthcare members in Alabama will be affected.