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Deadline Passes Without New Deal Between United Healthcare, WakeMed

UnitedHealthcare terminated its contract with WakeMed at midnight Wednesday in a dispute over the prices the insurer has to pay.

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Hospital, Insurer Dispute Unresolved
RALEIGH, N.C. — A deadline passed Wednesday evening for WakeMed and the insurer UnitedHealthcare, which ends their relationship after a dispute over how much the carrier pays the hospital for services its members receive.

UnitedHealthcare is one of the Triangle's largest health-insurance companies, and it would like to pay prices more like the lower ones Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina pays. WakeMed says prices are based on how much business an insurer brings into the hospital and that it cannot afford to give UnitedHealthcare a better deal.

Without a contract, UnitedHealthcare patients who use WakeMed will be going out of their approved network for services and insurance will cover less of the expenses.

Officials at WakeMed said they do have a remedy for those who still want to go to WakeMed. The hospital has printed up pamphlets explaining how UnitedHealthcare members may be able to get treatment without paying any more than they would have.

The hospital has a plan to cover out-of-pocket costs on a case-by-case basis for those who choose to go out of network.

About 200,000 card-holders in the Triangle will lose coverage at WakeMed.

"We will make up the difference financially for that individual patient," Deborah G. Friberg, WakeMed's executive vice president and chief operating officer, said.

WakeMed has set up a hotline for United Healthcare members: 919-350-CARE (2273).
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