BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WSFA) - The UAB Health System and UnitedHealthcare have reached an agreement on a health insurance contract with little time left to spare.
An agreement was needed by July 31 or UnitedHealthcare said it would have to cut ties with multiple hospitals, a move that would have affected approximately 25,000 of its members.
The tentative agreement means those with UnitedHealthcare insurance policies and Medicare Advantage health plans can continue using their UAB medical providers and all UAB Medical facilities without disruption.
UAB and United now have two weeks to finalize the tentative agreement on a new 2-year contract.
“We are pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with UnitedHealthcare that will allow us to continue in our mission to provide the highest quality health care to their policy holders in Alabama,” said UAB Health System CEO Will Ferniany, Ph.D., “As the flagship hospital for the state, we provide medical services that no other healthcare facility can provide and we are committed to offering our services to everyone in the state of Alabama.”
The contract dispute hinged on UnitedHealthcare’s need 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.” The insurer said, however, that UAB was “significantly more expensive" than other systems in Alabama and that UAB wanted “substantial rate increases” while restricting local businesses from creating benefit plans "that incentivize their employees to choose quality, lower-cost care providers.”
UAB Health said it’s more expensive because of the resources it offers and the patients it treats.
Following Wednesday’s agreement, UnitedHealthcare issued a statement saying “We recognize that the care UAB provides is not only important but also personal to our members, and we understand the negotiation process may have been difficult for them. Our top priority throughout this process was ensuring the members we’re honored to serve in Alabama have access to quality, affordable health care, and we appreciate UAB’s collaboration in helping achieve this outcome.”
UAB Medicine facilities include UAB Hospital; The Kirklin Clinic of UAB Hospital and all other UAB Medicine primary care, specialty care, and urgent care clinics; UA Health Services Foundation; UAB Callahan Eye Hospital; Medical West; and Baptist Health in Montgomery.