UPDATE: UnitedHealthcare reaches agreement with UAB Health System

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UPDATE: (12:20 pm) — UAB Health Systems and United Healthcare have reached an agreement for a new, multi-year relationship. Both parties will work over the next two weeks on settling that agreement but those with United Healthcare can receive service at UAB Health Systems.

UAB Health Systems will no longer accept United Healthcare Insurance beginning in late July. The two companies couldn’t reach a contract agreement. 

The contracts between United Healthcare and several UAB Health System affiliates will expire on July 30, 2019. Many who live along the Gulf Coast travel to UAB for specialty medical care. If you do and you have United Healthcare insurance, starting July 31st, you will be personally financially responsible for services, with the exception of emergency services.

There are two areas of dispute. The first has to do with rates.

“We are offering them rates better than their current contract, we feel we’ve offered them very competitive rates, what they’re asking for which is the first point of dispute are rates that we think are just way too low,” said Will Ferniany, UAB Health System, CEO.

UAB feels United is putting profit over the needs of patients.

There is also a disagreement over “tiering,” meaning you would pay more at UAB than you would at any other Alabama hospital.

Ferniany said, “People that come here for the severity of illnesses that only we can treat should not have to pay more out of pocket for it because if you think about it, what that is doing is United’s paying less and you’re asking the patient to pay more.”

Reps for United Healthcare argue UAB is actually putting Alabama residents in the middle of this conflict.

A statement released Friday on behalf of United Healthcare says in part, “The cost of care at UAB Hospital is more than double the average cost of care at all other hospitals in Alabama, and is more than 50-percent more expensive on average than other academic medical centers in neighboring states that provide similar services. This means higher costs for consumers. UAB is also demanding that we hide its costs on our websites, which consumers use when shopping for quality, affordable health care.”

Either way, this will directly affect the roughly 25,000 policyholders in Alabama.

This same thing happened in 2005, and the contract between united Healthcare and UAB was terminated then. An agreement was finally reached in 2011.

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