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400,000 patients affected after BayCare, UnitedHealthcare contract expires

7:56 PM, Nov 26, 2012   |    comments
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Video: 400,000 patients affected by insurance contract dispute

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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- Both sides in a months-long healthcare battle have confirmed to 10 News that their contract has expired.

UnitedHealthcare and BayCare Health System failed to reach an agreement in their dispute, which revolves around how much United reimburses BayCare for medical treatment by its doctors at nearly a dozen hospitals across Tampa Bay.

Those hospitals include St. Joseph's Hospitals, Morton Plant, and St. Anthony's. Now that United and BayCare have decided to go their separate ways, it could impact more than 400,000 people across Tampa Bay, leaving many of them to find new doctors or insurance plans.

United has argued that BayCare wants big increases for employer plans, including an extra $12,000 for hip replacement surgery and $5,000 for breast biopsies. BayCare, however, has said those numbers are inaccurate and that United owes millions of dollars.

But the breakdown in negotiations doesn't impact all patients the same way. If you're under a course of treatment right now with a BayCare doctor while being covered by United, you can continue to get that care on a case-by-case basis.

You'll still have access to BayCare hospitals if you have United's Medicare Supplement plan.

BayCare representatives say even if you're enrolled in United's Medicare Advantage Plan, and you're seeing a BayCare doctor affiliated with certain physician groups, you should be covered.

In a statement, BayCare clarifies that its employed physicians will "still participate with Medicare Advantage products. BayCare's employed physician groups include: HealthPoint Medical Group, Morton Plant Mease Primary Care, Morton Plant Mease Specialists, Morton Plant Mease Immediate Care, St. Anthony's Primary Care, St. Anthony's Specialists, and Suncoast Medical Clinic."

Even if you have UnitedHealthcare, you can still use BayCare hospitals if you need to go to the emergency room. They're required to admit you under federal law.

If you have questions about how you'll be affected, check out BayCare's and United's websites.

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