United Healthcare is jeopardizing its members’ access to local healthcare services of Northwest Healthcare – Tucson Local Media

Local residents with United Healthcare health insurance should be concerned. Your access to high-quality healthcare services at Northwest Healthcare is at risk.

Why?

Because over the course of several months United issued a notice of termination on our contract, demanded a 25 percent cut in its payments, and refuses to engage in good-faith negotiations with our health system. If United doesn’t place any urgency on our discussions to renew our contract, our existing agreement will expire on May 1, 2017. That means thousands of United members will no longer have in-network access to our facilities, urgent care locations or physicians.

It’s not unusual for health insurance companies and healthcare providers to negotiate and renew contracts. However, what’s not part of normal business process is to terminate your contract in the middle of open enrollment and not alert members. This is a major disruption in patient care, especially the relationship patients have with their physicians. 

United issued a notice of termination to our contract in November of last year, and for the last five months, Northwest Healthcare has committed the time and resources to reaching an agreement. Despite our health system offering significant compromise, United has refused to negotiate in good-faith on anything less than a 25 percent cut in what they pay us for the care we provide to its members. United knows very well that we – nor most other healthcare providers – cannot possibly endure such a deep cut. The same would be true if your boss cut your pay by 25percent to do the same job. For us, this kind of demand threatens our ability to provide the same level of services and resources our patients have come to expect from Northwest Healthcare.  

Northwest Healthcare is committed to Tucson, Oro Valley and the surrounding areas. Over the last year, we’ve recruited 18 new physicians in a variety of specialties including family medicine, internal medicine, cardiology, podiatry and neurology. Two new QuickMed locations and the new Northwest Heart & Vascular practice opened, and we added new equipment for robotic and gastrointestinal surgery. In 2016, our hospitals provided more than $61 million in charity and uncompensated care to the area’s most in-need residents. Finally, our organization leaves a sizable footprint of more than $18 million in property and business taxes, which in turn fund civic resources and services.

We’re doing everything we can to help patients continue to have in-network access to our hospitals, urgent care and physician practices. What can United members do?

Call United. United members should call the number on the back of their health insurance card and demand that United work with us to protect in-network access to Northwest Healthcare providers. 

Talk to Your Employer. Ask your employer to explore other health insurance options that have our providers in its network. We are in network with all other major health plans. If you have options, consider switching to a health plan that guarantees your in-network access to all our providers.

Call CMS: If you have a Medicare Advantage health plan, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) needs to hear from you about the importance of keeping your in-network access to Northwest Healthcare providers. Contact CMS today at (800) 633-4227 to switch plans and request a complaint be opened.

Apply for Continuity of Care. Certain patients may qualify for Continuity of Care benefits for a period of time after the contract ends. If you need ongoing treatment, are pregnant, or if you have a previously-scheduled procedure, you may qualify. Download the form at www.StandUpToUnitedAZ.com, or call the customer service phone number on the back of your United health insurance card to find out if you’re eligible.

Northwest Healthcare will do everything we can to make sure the patients who place their trust in our care can access the services they need. We are proud to serve as an important part of our community’s healthcare landscape, as we have for more than 33 years. We continue to be willing to work with United and reach an agreement in YOUR best interest. We need United to take its role – and its negotiation – as seriously as we do.

It’s important to know that if you have Original Medicare and have a United supplemental health plan (also known as a MediGap health plan), you are not impacted by these negotiations. Additionally, TRICARE members are not impacted by these negotiations. (Northwest Healthcare includes Northwest Medical Center, Oro Valley Hospital, Northwest Allied Physicians, Northwest Urgent Care, QuickMed Clinics, Desert Cardiology, Heart Center of Southern Arizona, Northwest Heart & Vascular and Northwest Emergency Center)

 

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