St. Petersburg, Florida - A month has passed since the contract between UnitedHealthcare and BayCare ended, leaving more than 456,000 policyholders looking for new doctors.
The latest from officials with UHC and the BayCare Health System is they are still negotiating, but there are significant hurdles over hospital charges and insurance reimbursements. In the meantime, one local hospital is seeing more UHC patients.
"We know the period of time from November 27 and December 15, we saw a 20 percent increase in patient admissions," says Bayfront Medical Center spokeswoman Emily Nipps. She adds those patients are staying for more than a day.
Nipps says, "For elected procedures, surgeries, treatment or procedures, patients are here for a good amount of time." She adds, "Around this time of year, we see more business. Our staff prepares for that increase, but it's not big enough yet to tax our staff."
BayCare officials say they are directing patients to its website at BayCare.org and navigating them to the section on health plan questions where they can learn more.
Nipps says, "We do hope BayCare and UnitedHealthcare work out their difference. It's good for everybody and good for the community."
Bayfront Medical Center officials say not too long ago, they too faced a similar impasse with Aetna Insurance. It took four months to work it out. No one knows what will happen with UHC policy holders, but in the meantime many are paying out of pocket.