Thousands of Oklahomans are upset to learn they may no longer be able to see their doctors, after receiving notices from Hillcrest HealthCare System of possible changes to their insurance carrier next year.
Hillcrest is still in-network with United Healthcare, but that may not be the case starting May 2023.
The issue is patients now have to hurry and either re-enroll or pick a new plan by December 7th.
The following statement is from Hillcrest HealthCare System: "Hillcrest HealthCare System currently remains in-network with UnitedHealthcare. However, we are working to notify UnitedHealthcare members of pending network changes that will end Hillcrest’s in-network status with all United plans beginning in May 2023. Like health systems around the country, our operating costs have continually increased during the last few years. United’s reimbursement rates have not been adjusted to help offset these pressures. We recognize the disruption this would create for patients and will work closely with affected individuals to ensure a smooth transition of care. During the ongoing Medicare annual enrollment period, Hillcrest patients using a Medicare Advantage plan from United as their primary insurance can choose to stay with their Hillcrest providers by selecting another health plan contracted with Hillcrest. Those individuals can visit Hillcrest.com/Medicare for more information. It is important to note that this change will not impact United members’ access to emergency care, as all health plans must consider emergency services in-network. Additionally, Utica Park Clinic, Oklahoma Heart Institute clinics and Tulsa Spine & Specialty Hospital will remain in-network for United members."
"They want their doctors and nurses to get paid more on United's Bill," said Alex Tarasenko, Medicare Enroll USA. "They're just honestly hoping people leave United Healthcare, so they don't have to worry about renegotiating that."
Tarasenko said when he called the number suggested by Hillcrest and used his mom as an example, the helpline didn't even ask him what hospital she goes to or what prescriptions she takes.
"They said here's your two options, which one you want," said Tarasenko. "I'll go find a different doctor, right? But good luck telling my mom to switch her doctor. It's just not gonna happen."
He said most senior citizens care most about keeping their doctor. But if they switch away from United, they may get stuck with a random plan and end up losing some of their benefits and could possibly cost them more.
"Seniors that make you know $800, $900, $1,000 in social security, they can't afford to pay cash for anything," said Tarasenko.