Healthcare dispute between UnitedHealthCare and BayCare Health System impacts 450,000 in Bay area

5:25 PM, Oct 31, 2012   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- The recent full-page newspaper ads outlining a contract dispute between BayCare Health System and UnitedHealthcare talked about Medicare plans and last week 10 News spoke with local seniors worried about which hospitals they could go to.

"I want to make sure I'm covered. Everybody does," said Lois Allenius, a senior citizen and United Medicare Advantage customer.

But this battle between the two the healthcare heavy weights is not just catching seniors in the crossfire, everyone with UnitedHealthCare could be in for some changes.

United spokesman Daryl Richard says the company's Medicare, state Medicaid (Florida Healthy Kids), employer sponsored, and individually purchased plans are all part of the contract dispute with BayCare. According to Richard, about 450,000 people in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties are covered by those plans.

Many employees of 10 News, including this reporter, have insurance through UnitedHealthcare.

United is sending out letters warning customers that its contracts with BayCare hospitals, doctors, and outpatient facilities are about to terminate on Nov. 26.

"It irritated me," says Cherie Green, about the news from the insurance company. New to the area, she just got done choosing a doctor and she dreads the hassle of doing it all over again. "Close to your house, who fits in your medical program -- it took a lot of my time," Green says. "I hope they reach an agreement so I can keep my doctor."

And while the letters from United advise customers to start researching new doctors and hospitals, there is still hope for an agreement. And Prof. Jay Wolfson of USF Health, says wars like this do tend to end with a peace plan. 

"In the past in Florida and most of the other disputes around the country, they've been resolved miraculously just near the last minute," he said.

However, no matter how this dispute turns out, federal law says that if you need an emergency room, you can go to any hospital

BayCare Health System, this area's largest hospital network, provided the following statement regarding the contract dispute:

"Effective Nov. 26, 2012, BayCare will no longer be a participating provider in United's provider network for Medicare Advantage, Medicaid and commercial products. Further, on Oct. 24, 2012, United terminated participation of BayCare's physician groups effective Nov. 26, 2012, from United's commercial and Medicaid networks."

"Please know that for an emergency medical condition, United's customers can still access care at BayCare's hospital emergency departments. However, after Nov. 26, 2012 only United customers that have out-of-network benefits or qualify to be covered by a continuity of care provision, can access BayCare facilities and physicians for non-emergent services.  Patients can contact United to determine if they have continued access."

And UnitedHealthCare provided this list of in-network hospitals its customers can choose from if no agreement is reached by the November deadline:

HOSPITALS PARTICIPATING WITH UNITEDHEALTHCARE EMPLOYER-SPONSORED, MEDICAID, and FLORIDA HEALTHY KIDS PLANS

Facility Name

County

Facility Name

County

1. Brandon Regional Hospital

Hillsborough

12. Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point

Pasco

2. Florida Hospital Carrollwood

Hillsborough

13. All Children's Hospital

Pinellas

3. Florida Hospital Tampa

Hillsborough

14. Bayfront Medical Center

Pinellas

4. H Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute

Hillsborough

15. Edward White Hospital

Pinellas

5. Memorial Hospital of Tampa

Hillsborough

16. Florida Hospital North Pinellas

Pinellas

6. South Bay Hospital

Hillsborough

17. Largo Medical Center

Pinellas

7. Tampa General Hospital

Hillsborough

18. Largo Medical Center - Indian Rocks

Pinellas

8. Town and County Hospital

Hillsborough

19. Northside Hospital and Heart Institute

Pinellas

9. Florida Hospital at Connerton (LTAC)

Pasco

20. Palms of Pasadena Hospital

Pinellas

10. Medical Center of Trinity

Pasco

21. St. Petersburg General Hospital

Pinellas

11. Pasco Regional Medical Center

Pasco

 

 

HOSPITALS PARTICIPATING WITH UNITEDHEALTHCARE MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PLANS

Facility Name

County

Facility Name

County

1. Brandon Regional Hospital

Hillsborough

11. Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point

Pasco

2. Florida Hospital Carrollwood

Hillsborough

12. Bayfront Medical Center

Pinellas

3. Florida Hospital Tampa

Hillsborough

13. Edward White Hospital

Pinellas

4. Memorial Hospital of Tampa

Hillsborough

14. Florida Hospital North Pinellas

Pinellas

5. South Bay Hospital

Hillsborough

15. Largo Medical Center

Pinellas

6. Tampa General Hospital

Hillsborough

16. Largo Medical Center - Indian Rocks

Pinellas

7. Town and County Hospital

Hillsborough

17. Northside Hospital and Heart Institute

Pinellas

8. Florida Hospital at Connerton

Pasco

18. Palms of Pasadena Hospital

Pinellas

9. Medical Center of Trinity

Pasco

19. St. Petersburg General Hospital

Pinellas

10. Pasco Regional Medical Center

Pasco