St. Petersburg, Florida - Insurance insecurity is gripping hundreds of thousands of Bay Area residents. United Healthcare, one of the region's biggest insurance companies, has severed ties with BayCare Health System, one of the Bay area's biggest medical providers.
The two were unable to reach an agreement on covered costs and reimbursements before last night's midnight deadline.
Chances are you or someone you know relies on United Healthcare for their medical insurance. It could become a major problem forcing people to find alternative doctors and hospitals or pay a lot more out of pocket.
For some, the timing is just awful. For example, just two days after Steve Corbet selected United Healthcare for his health insurance, the retired St. Pete police officer started reading articles and full-page ads about a rift with BayCare Health systems.
At midnight Corbet and about 400,000 other United Healthcare customers in the Bay area were left scrambling to find new providers or pay out of network costs.
"The medical facilities and the doctors we had chosen to utilize were accepting United," he said. "I feel kicked to the curb a little bit."
Emergency care is still covered by federal law, but Corbet says he liked his doctors. He liked the quality and convenient location of BayCare hospitals.
"And we didn't have to travel great distances for our medical care," he said.
Each side was still blaming the other on Monday. United Healthcare and BayCare have claimed the others' greed led to the impasse.
United Healthcare went public with full-page ads questioning double-digit increases that it said it would have to pass along to customers.
But some BayCare providers and medical groups say that's "inaccurate" and that United never even called to negotiate with them.
A spokesperson for United Healthcare called it disappointing.
"But the door remains open to further negotiations with BayCare and we hope the hospital system will return to active discussions with us," said spokesperson Elizabeth Calzadilla-Fiallo.
In a statement released this afternoon, BayCare said it would still provide out-of- network services with United's approval, and similarly added that "BayCare is open to having meaningful discussions with United."
But for Steve Corbet and likely thousands of others, it just seems to be more about the money, not the customer.
"It never comes out to benefit the consumer - you and me - that are paying the premiums," said Corbet.
This affects not just the BayCare hospitals but also the doctors' groups it operates.
United Healthcare says it has 21 other facilities in the Bay Area.
They recommend checking with your doctor to find out if they still accept your United healthcare insurance.
If not, and you feel you need to select a new physician you can find one in your area by visiting the link below.
Link: Find a United Healthcare Physician